The Springfield News-Sun digs into public spending to find out what's really going on with your tax dollars. To view a database of all of the salaries, go to SpringfieldNewsSun.com.
It’s right for people to know how much their public employees are being paid, said Greg Lawson of the conservative Buckeye Institute.
“It’s fair for people to look at that and the total compensation package,” he said. “I think it’s reasonable for taxpayers to want to feel like they are getting the right kind of value.”
Public employees are paid more than the average resident might think, Lawson said.
“You can definitely make a nice living off the public sector,” he said.
Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said many public employees work more than 40 hours and take work home more often than at other jobs.
“The employees are working hard and deserve fair pay,” he said.
Retirement payouts are common for public employees throughout the state, Lawson said, and differs from what most private sector employees get.
“In the private sector, usually what you have in sick leave is use-it-or-lose-it and vacation time often is-use-it-or-lose-it,” he said. “You don’t get to cash out your unused leave.”
Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said the retirement payouts make employees invest in their job.
“To the public, it looks like it is over and above what they would expect, but I think the pay is not so good on a monthly basis,” Copeland said.
LAST YEAR: Payroll Project: Champaign County’s highest-paid employees
The city of Springfield loses employees to other cities that pay more, he said, But, he said because of the payout available when employees retire, he has found some are more likely to stay because they want the large end-of-career bonus.
“Our best people will leave us,” Copeland said if it was not for the retirement packages. “We need to give them that incentive.”
Educators topped the list of highest paid public employees in 2016 for both Clark and Champaign counties.
Clark State President Jo Alice Blondin tops the list again this year as the highest paid Clark County public employee. According to records provided by the school, Blondin took home more than $207,000 last year.
Blondin made more than $150,000 as president. She also made thousands as an adjunct professor and was awarded a performance bonus. She pointed out she’s not the highest paid community college president in the state — or even the region.
Steven Johnson, the president of Sinclair College in Dayton, made $250,000 last year, according to the I-Team payroll project.
Clark State Vice President and Provost Amit Singh made more than $150,000.
Every public school superintendent in Clark County made more than $100,000 and every Champaign County superintendent made more than $90,000 last year:
- Robert Hill, Springfield City, $161,909
- Norm Glismann, Tecumseh Local, $125,377
- Rick Smith, Springfield-Clark CTC, $121,007
- John Kronour, Northeastern Local, $121,004
- Jesse Steiner, Northwestern Local, $119,250
- Brad Silvus, Greenon Local, $118,262
- Kraig Hissong, West Liberty-Salem, $114,337
- Charles Thiel, Urbana City, $113,408
- Gregg Morris, Clark-Shawnee Local, $112,122
- David Shea, Southeastern Local, $102,316
- Danielle Prohaska, Mechanicsburg Exempt, $96,691
- Chris Piper, Triad Local, $93,442
Graham Superintendent Kirk Koennecke only worked about half a year last year and was paid $57,000. He is due $115,000 this year, according to records.
Hissong is the highest paid public employee in Champaign County.
Lawson said it’s not uncommon for superintendents throughout the state to make $100,000. He said it makes sense for superintendents to be compensated because they are they play the role of CEO for important public institutions.
Springfield City School District had eight employees make over $100,000 last year.
Ten city employees made more than $100,000 last year and others came close, a review of public payroll records show.
Springfield Police Chief Stephen Moody made the most money of any city employee — and was second in all public workers in Clark County — taking home more than $183,000.
2015 STATS: Payroll Project: Springfield’s highest-paid employees
Moody retired and then was rehired, cashing out unused personal days, Springfield City Finance Director Mark Beckdahl said. Moody has worked for the city for more than 42 years.
Assistant Finance Director Debora Cooper also retired last year after 32 years of service to the city and cashed out her personal time off days. She saw more than $158,000 last year, with more than $91,000 as her base salary.
Springfield City Manager Jim Bodenmiller, who made more than $150,000 last year, said the city takes payroll seriously.
“The sick and vacation payout is part of our compensation package,” he said. “We plan for them and are part of our program and it has been for many years.”
Moody took a pay cut when he was rehired and is saving the city money by working for a lower rate, Bodenmiller said. He also said the police chief is on call at all hours of the day.
The normal retirement payout for Springfield employees is closer to $12,000, Bodenmiller said. Paying for unused personal time also makes employees want to be careful how they use their days, he said, and come to work more often.
“We want to pay people a fair wage because we want them to stay,” Bodenmiller said. “We’ve fallen behind over the last few years.”
The overall Springfield city payroll last year was more than $28.6 million. Bodenmiller said the city has lost employees recently to equally sized cities because they pay more.
No employee in Urbana or New Carlisle made more than $100,000 last year, according to records. The year before, a fire captain and a police sergeant in Urbana made more than $120,000 after they retired and cashed out personal days.
City Director Kerry Brugger made the most in Urbana with just more than $99,000 and New Carlisle City Manager Randy Bridge made about $73,800 last year.
Lawson said residents usually are willing to pay for the best service.
“A lot of times people like what they see their police officers do and they are willing to pay for that,” he said. “But people still want to make sure they are getting a fair deal.”
Several employees of Clark and Champaign counties made more than $100,000 last year and one made more than $100,000 in retirement pay.
2015 STATS: Top paid employees in Clark and Champaign counties
Mental Health and Recovery Board Chief Program Officer William Kent Youngman received a more than $142,000 retirement payout last year.
Last year Clark County had six employees who made over $100,000.
The highest paid Clark County public employee who didn’t retire last year, according to records, was Mental Health and Recovery Board CEO Greta Mayer, netting a little more than $126,000. Other employees who topped $100,000 were:
- Clark County Combined Health District Commissioner Charlie Patterson, $118,000.
- Clark County Prosecutor Andy Wilson, $115,000.
- Clark County Developmental Disabilities Superintendent Jennifer Rousculp Miller, $107,000.
- Clark County Department of Job and Family Services Director Virginia Martycz, $101,000.
- Clark County Public Defender James Marshall, $100,000.
Nine Clark County workers made more than $100,000 last year. More than 30 of them made between $80,000 to $99,000. The Clark County total payroll was more than $46 million, according to records.
Champaign County records show not as many employees made $100,000. Executive Director of the Mental Health, Drug & Alcohol Services Board of Logan & Champaign Counties David Higgins made about $113,000 last year. Higgins was the highest paid in Champaign County government. The records show he made about $11,000 using sick and vacation time.
Criminal justice salaries
Clark County Prosecutor Andy Wilson makes more than $115,000 and Champaign County Prosecutor Kevin Talebi makes about $105,000.
Wilson said he believes taxpayers are getting a good deal when it comes to his salary and said he believes he would be making a lot more money as a private attorney.
“I would basically be a managing partner of a 16-attorney firm, which would be the biggest firm in Springfield,” he said. “I have no idea how much I would make in the private sector but I believe it would be more.”
Wilson said he’s wants to serve the public.
“I am more interested in the job than the money,” he said. “If there was a time where I could no longer do this job, I don’t think I would chase big money. I would try to find to find a way to serve. I like the idea of serving the public.”
According to the Ohio Supreme Court, local judges also make over $100,000. The Clark County Common Pleas Court judges — Richard O’Neil, Douglas Rastatter and Thomas Capper — each made about $127,000 in 2016. They are set to make about $133,000 this year. Champaign County Common Pleas Judge Nick Selvaggio makes the same.
Full-time municipal court judges make about $119,000 in Ohio. Clark has three and Urbana has one.
The county sheriffs didn’t make more than $100,000 last year. Former Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelley made a little more than $84,000 last year and Champaign County Sheriff Matthew Melvin made a little less than $60,000, according to records.
Clark County Highest-Paid Workers:
Jo Alice Blondin, Clark State Community College President, $207,271
Stephen Moody, Springfield City Police Division Chief, $183,880 — retired and rehired
Robert Hill, Springfield City School Superintendent, $161,909
Kevin Taylor, Clark County Director of Managed Care, $158,764 — retired
Debora Cooper, Assistant Finance Director, $158,233 — retired
County Highest-Paid Workers:
Kraig Hissong, West Liberty-Salem School Superintendent, $114,337
Charles Thiel, Urbana City Schools Superintendent, $113,924
David Higgins, Executive Director Mental Health, Drug & Alcohol Services Board of Logan & Champaign Counties, $113,408
Kevin Talebi, Champaign County Prosecutor, $104,135
Judith Geers, Graham Local School Treasurer, $101,316
FOLLOW THE I-TEAM PAYROLL PROJECT
Local and state governments make payroll with your money. That's why the I-Team used Ohio public records laws to assemble and analyze payroll data for governments across the region.You can search our growing database of government employees who made more than $50,000 in gross compensation last year on our website, SpringfieldNewsSun.com/data/
By the numbers:
$46,651,472: The total 2016 payroll for Clark County Government
$28,634,739: The total 2016 payroll for the city of Springfield
10: Number of city of Springfield employees who made $100,000 or more last year
10: Numbers of Clark County government employees who made $100,000 or more last year
10: Local school superintendents who make $100,000 or more