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City workers' average pay is $54,222

April 18, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com
  • City Hall at corner of Franklin and Potomac streets.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

City of Hagerstown employees will make an average of $54,222 in the current fiscal year, or $17,770 more than Washington County's estimated average annual income.

• LINK: City of Hagerstown salary database  The average annual wage per worker in Washington County was listed at $36,452. That figure is based on the latest average weekly wage per worker of $701 from the third quarter of 2010, according to figures provided by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. The figure reflects gross wages, before deductions are taken for employee contributions to benefits such as a 401(k) or health insurance.

According to the state labor department, calculation of the average weekly wage does not include wages of self-employed and family workers; railroad workers; state and local government elected officials; insurance and real estate agents paid solely by commission; some religious organization workers; crew members and officers of vessels having a capacity of 10 tons or less; agricultural labor where cash wages are less than $20,000 or fewer than 10 workers are employed during the current or preceding quarter; and domestic service unless the employer pays cash wages of at least $1,000 to workers during any quarter of the current or preceding calendar year.

For full-time employees of the City of Hagerstown, more than $100,000 separates the salaries of the highest-paid and lowest-paid workers, according to salary figures The Herald-Mail obtained from the City of Hagerstown after filing a public information request Aug. 19, 2010.

The median salary for city employees was $51,459, according to those figures. Median income is the midpoint of salaries, with all workers having an equal probability of falling above or below that point.

The most recent U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, dated 2009, listed Washington County's estimated median income at $27,727 with a $1,547 margin of error.

Like many industries that froze salaries in response to the economy, city salaries have not increased since the council froze cost-of-living adjustments in fiscal year 2010 and pay step increases in fiscal year 2011, according to city documents.

In addition, the implementation of 10 unpaid workstop and furlough days lowered each employee's salary by approximately 3.8 percent in fiscal year 2011, City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman, who is the city's highest-paid employee, was listed as making $129,459 before the reduction. Without those 10 days of pay, his salary fell by $4,919, to $124,540 after reduction.

Council members were listed on the document as receiving the lowest annual pay, with each council member making $8,000.  

William Breichner, Martin Brubaker, Forrest Easton, Ashley Haywood and Lewis Metzner serve on the council.

The council and Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, whose salary was listed as $28,000, were not subject to the 3.8 percent reduction in salary due to workstop and furlough days, according to the document.

A total of 54 full-time city employees were listed as making more than $70,000 before reduction, according to the figures.

The lowest-paid, nonelected full-time city employee made $27,664 before reduction and $26,613 after reduction.

Hagerstown's eight highest salaries topped $100,000 before reduction.

According to the city's salary figures, City Utility Director Mike Spiker made the second-highest city salary, at $123,323 before the reduction. After the reduction, Spiker made $118,637.

Hagerstown Police Department Chief Arthur Smith grossed $107,786 followed by City Engineer Rodney Tissue, at $107,058, both before reduction. After the reduction, Smith was listed at $103,690 and Tissue at $102,989.

Budget Officer and former Finance Director Al Martin, Director of Information Technology and Support Services Scott Nicewarner each grossed $104,499 before the reduction and $100,528 after reduction.

Eric Deike, manger of public works, was listed at $101,213 before the reduction and at $97,367 after the reduction.

Water Operations Manager Nancy Hausrath was listed as the city's highest-paid female employee at $96,928 before the reduction.

Hausrath made the same salary as Wastewater Operations Manager Donald Barton and Assistant Finance Director Ray Foltz.

After the reduction, the three employees each were listed at $93,245.

John Lestitian, director of Community and Economic Development, was listed at $96,200 before reduction and at $92,544 after.

City Human Resources Director Donna Frazier and Planning Director Kathy Maher both grossed $94,619 before reduction, $91,024 after.

W. Kyd Dieterich, while acting fire chief, was listed at $91,312 before reduction and at $87,842 afterward.

Economic Development Director Debbie Everhart was listed at $91,312 before reduction, $87,842 after.

Karen Giffin, director of public relations and marketing, grossed $88,026 before reduction and $84,681 after.

Acting Finance Director Michelle Burker grossed $85,259 before reduction, $82,019 after.

According to the figures, female department heads — as listed on the city website at www.hagerstownmd.org — made, on average, less than male department heads in the city, mirroring the gender discrepancies in the county median income figures.

Male department heads averaged $93,867 before reduction and $90,300 after reduction, while female department heads made on average $89,016 before reduction and $85,634 after reduction, according to the figures.

In Washington County, males had a median income of $33,674, while the female median income in the county was $19,945, according to 2009 American Community Survey one-year estimates.

What has changed

Since The Herald-Mail obtained figures from the city in September 2010, Hagerstown has made numerous changes with regard to its full-time staffing.

Frazier said she wanted to provide the public with the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, noting that the numbers presented to The Herald-Mail were accurate in September 2010 but might not accurately reflect the city at present.

Since September, the city eliminated approximately 55 positions, Zimmerman said previously.

Additionally, Frazier said, eight employees retired as part of the first round of retirement incentives, with 11 following during the second round.

Two employees, Al Martin and Debbie Everhart, also announced their retirements, but did not take the incentive, she said.

The city hired nine employees to fill open positions, she said, and created five new positions to fill critical needs, all since September.

One of the employees, whose position was eliminated in January, returned to fill a different vacancy, she said.

During an elimination of positions in January, union employees with seniority were given the chance to "bump" into lower-level positions.

Bumping is the ability of a senior employee to "bump" a junior employee out of the lower-level position by proving that he or she had the qualifications necessary to take on that position, Frazier said.

Through that process, approximately six employees had shifted into lower-level positions, she said.

Additionally, W. Kyd Dieterich had been promoted to fire chief since September 2010, increasing his salary to $94,619, she said.

Frazier said the city went through an unusually high number of position and staffing changes since September 2010 due to the restructuring and the challenging economy.

"To my knowledge the city had never been in a position where it had to eliminate positions until recently," she said.

In total, the city had $24,345,895 earmarked for full-time salaries, according to the September 2010 figures.

For fiscal year 2012, the city expenditure for full-time salaries was budgeted at about $24 million, Martin said.

Compared to the total salaries listed on the September 2010 document, the city is holding its salary expenditure steady for the coming fiscal year.  

When compared to the fiscal year 2010 actual salary expenditures of $26.4 million, the city has reduced its overall salary expenditures in the current fiscal year by about $2.4 million, Martin said.On the Web:

A full, searchable database of fiscal 2011 salaries of Washington County Public Schools, Washington County government and Hagerstown city government employees is available on The Herald-Mail's website. Click on any of the links above or the "Salaries & Records" tab on the homepage.

Editor's note: This is the third story in a three-part series about salaries of local government employees. Figures in this story are based on a database of fiscal year 2011 salaries and hourly pay rates provided to The Herald-Mail by the City of Hagerstown upon request in August 2010. That information was provided before salary reductions and other austerity measures went into effect. All salary figures cited were current as of September 2010.

A story about salaries of Washington County Board of Education employees was published Sunday. A story about salaries of Washington County government employees was published Monday.

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