Saturday, April 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

For some Philadelphians, good-paying jobs are hard to find. But not for some city workers . . .

Who are the highest paid city employees? You might be surprised. Mayor Nutter doesn´t make the top five. (Daily News graphic illustration)
Who are the highest paid city employees? You might be surprised. Mayor Nutter doesn't make the top five. (Daily News graphic illustration)
Who are the highest paid city employees? You might be surprised. Mayor Nutter doesn´t make the top five. (Daily News graphic illustration) Gallery: For some Philadelphians, good-paying jobs are hard to find. But not for some city workers . . .

THIS STORY HAS BEEN CORRECTED

WHEN IT COMES to city government, you're paying for it. Your tax dollars go to keeping cops on the street, libraries open and the lights on at City Hall. So every once in a while it's worth looking at how much city workers get paid - and if you're getting your money's worth.

The Daily News crunched some numbers to let you know who's taking home top dollars. Some - such as key mayoral aides Managing Director Richard Negrin ($171,000) or Chief of Staff Clarence Armbrister ($178,650) - may not surprise you. But others - correctional officers pulling down six figures by working overtime - might.

City officials stressed that they have worked to keep overall payroll costs down in recent years. Finance Director Rob Dubow said that the city has eliminated roughly 800 full-time positions, as part of the ongoing budget cuts.

More coverage
  • Top 10 city salaries
  • "I think we've tried hard over the last couple of years to keep our personnel costs down," Dubow said.

    Here are details on the city's top earners:

     

    The big guns

     

    These are the folks with the biggest base salaries.

    * Medical Examiner Sam Gulino brings home the No. 1 city salary at $239,200. According to Health Department spokesman Jeff Moran, Gulino is one of about 700 people in the country who have the necessary qualifications for the job. The medical examiner has long been one of the highest-paid jobs in the city.

    * No. 2 is Chief Technology Officer Allan Frank at $209,000. Officials have noted that Frank - who's trying to bring the city's infrastructure into the 21st century - has a specialized set of skills that could make him big bucks in the private sector.

    * Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey makes $195,000, which Mayor Nutter has said is what he needed to pay to get the best. Nutter skirted a city ordinance that sets salary limits for key jobs and gave Ramsey an extra title of deputy mayor, so Nutter could pay him above the city maximum. By comparison, New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly makes $205,180 and Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck $307,000.

    * Nutter's salary is set at $168,720, after taking a 10 percent pay cut to help address the city's financial problems. That salary puts him close to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who makes $169,750 after taking a 3 percent pay cut. Nutter makes less than L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has taken a 16 percent pay cut to $231,535 or Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who will earn $194,210 this year, after taking a $20,000 cut.

    Members of Nutter's Cabinet have also taken recent pay cuts.

    * Director of the Free Library Siobhan Reardon makes $192,500. Dubow said the city increased the compensation for that position because Philadelphia wasn't competitive with what other library systems were paying.

     

    Overtime lords

     

    There's another category of city workers who bring home big paychecks. These are staffers who work extra hours, often taking home more than top managers.

    Let's call them overtime lords.

    The bulk of the city's overtime is paid out in specific departments, like police and prisons, which need 24-7 staffing and often require officers to work extra shifts to deal with emergencies.

    Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Everett Gillison said that overtime is a necessary reality in some departments.

    "In public safety, overtime is really how we end up having to get the job done. We are managing it. And we make sure we give it to the people who want it and don't abuse it," Gillison said.

    He also stressed that the city has reduced overtime since Nutter took office. Overtime pay has declined from roughly $200 million in 2008 to $166 million in 2009, based on city payroll records.

    Most overtime is paid at time-and-a-half of a worker's hourly wage. Each department has a supervisory level at which top managers are not paid overtime.

    Based on total overtime pay, homicide detectives Kenneth Rossiter and Levi Morton were the city's top two overtime earners, each getting more than $90,000 in overtime, bringing home totals of $163,923 and $158,862 respectively - two of the biggest pay packets in the city.

    "Homicide detectives are going to get overtime. They're going to work and they're going to work hard," Gillison said. "We want these guys out there solving crimes."

    Gillison noted that the homicide clearance rate - the percentage of cases "cleared" through an arrest - is currently at 80 percent.

    "We are getting extremely good value," Gillison said, noting that both detectives have "exemplary" attendance rates and good evaluations.

    Over in prisons, the city's correctional workers are getting the most overtime as a percentage of their base salaries. The top five make more than 160 percent above their salaries in overtime.

    At the top of that list is Normando Noland, who last year earned $74,433 in overtime on top of a salary of $40,016, for a total of $114,449. That's 186 percent of his salary in overtime.

    Gillison said correctional officers typically volunteer for overtime shifts, and given the size of the prison population (about 8,500), it's needed. He said all the top earners in prisons have good performance reviews.

    "We're still overpopulated at the prisons, we have to maintain a certain level of security," Gillison said.

    He said that with the city in a hiring freeze, overtime opportunities would continue, although he would like to hire when he can to prevent burnout.

    "I'm sensitive to the fact that you just can't ride people for a long period of time," Gillison said.


    CORRECTION: The original version of this story contained an incorrect salary figure for Mayor Nutter. The original figure, provided by the city budget office, did not reflect salary increases that the mayor has returned to the city in addition to his ten percent pay cut.

    CATHERINE LUCEY luceyc@phillynews.com 215-854-4172
    Also on Philly.com
    Stay Connected