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Most in the public sector saw raises of less than 1 percent last year

By Bill Felber

A handful of public sector employees survived the economically difficult 2011 year in nice shape, although most received only minimal pay increases and a significant number saw their gross pay reduced.

The Mercury’s annual report on public sector compensation found that on average, area public sector workers got pay raises amounting to about eight-tenths of one percent during 2011. That estimate is based on a sample of more than 3,700 persons employed at the same jobs during both 2010 and 2011.

Some employed in specialized fields at Kansas State University fared best, with Three dozen agriculture technicians at the top of the pay chain. Their average pay rose 10.73 percent, from $29,773 in 2010 to $32,967 in 2011.

Among non-university employees, teachers and other staff members in Rock Creek USD 323 did the best. There were 77 persons on that district’s payroll in 2011 who, based on name and job description, appeared to be doing the same job that year and in 2010. Those 77 earned 4 percent more in 2011 than in 2010.

At the other end of the scale were a half dozen web database developers at K-State, who saw their pay fall by 7.15 percent, from $49,368 to $45,836, between 2010 and 2011.

As a basis for its calculations, The Mercury identified 20 job descriptions at K-State - all the professorial ranks as well as a selection of other duties chosen at random - and compared the average gross reported pay for those positions in 2010 and 2011. The same was done for employees of 11 other area units of government - cities, counties, law enforcement and school districts.

The result was an average salary overall of $48,139.13, up from $47,840.93 for the same positions a year ago. Of the 20 KSU positions included, distinguished professors - there were 37 of them - received the highest average pay, $140,506.

Persons holding the title of senior administrative assistant, there were 121 - ranked at the bottom, earning an average of $30,864.

Among the 11 non-university public sector governments looked at, 141 employees of the Riley County Police Department were best-paid, at an average of $53,867.28. Employees of Pottawatomie County ranked at the bottom, earning an average of $38,447.

Here’s a quick government-by-government look at the data.


Nearly 250 city employees who — based on name and job description — appeared to have the same duties in 2010 and 2011 earned an average of $48,188.15. That was about 2 percent more than the $47,208 those same people earned in 2010. About two-thirds of those 244 got more pay in 2011 than in 2010.

The highest-paid city employee in 2010 was utilities director Dale Houdeshell, at $130,208. That was about six-tenths of a percentage point more than he made in 2010. City manager Ron Fehr ranked second at $129,380, about 1.2 percent more than Fehr made in 2010. Among the best-paid city employees, Community Development director Karen Davis got the largest percentage pay increase, 4.4 percent from $92,547 in 2010 to $96,605 in 2011.


Riley County

There were 138 county employees who appeared to be doing the same work in both 2010 and 2011, and they were paid an average of $48,380 for those duties in 2011, about 3.4 percent more than in 2010. The highest-paid county employee both years was counselor Clancy Holeman, whose pay rose 3.5 percent, from $110,594 to $114,501. County attorney Barry Wilkerson ranked second, receiving $113,587 in compensation in 2011, 2.9 percent more than in 2010. All but two county employees received more income in 2011 than in 2010. The two elected commissioners who were in office for both 2010 and 2011 - Al Johnson and Karen McCulloh - each made $35,880, about 3 percent more money in 2011.


Riley County Police Department: The average RCPD employee doing the same work in both 2010 and 2011 earned 3 percent more pay. RCPD Director Brad Schoen, the department’s highest paid employee at $111,114, was right in that range, earning 3.2 percent more in 2011. Assistant director John Doehling was paid $3.3 percent more, while Capts. Gary Grubbs, Jeff Hooper, Tim Hegarty and Kim Nelson earned between 3.7 and 4 percent more.


USD 383: Of 617 USD 383 employees who appeared to have been doing the same jobs for all of 2010 and 2011, the average gross pay was $43,018, an increase of about three-tenths of one percent. Supt. Bob Shannon was not among those seeing any increase. Shannon’s gross pay fell six percent, from $146,422 to $137,702 last year. That still left Shannon as the highest-paid non-university employee in the area, about $12,000 ahead of Houdeshell and $14,0009 ahead of Manhattan High Principal Terry McCarty, who is third overall. McCarty saw his pay increase 11 percent, from $111,200 to $123,845. The other school district administrator whose pay rose significantly was athletics director Mike Marsh. His gross increased 17 percent, from $73,930 to $86,525.


USD 323: On average, Rock Creek school district employees did the best of their non-university peers, with 4.0 percent pay gains. In raw numbers, the 77 district employees who appeared to be doing the same jobs in both 2010 and 2011 saw their pay go from an average of $41,343 to $42,998. Supt. Darrell Stufflebeam’s pay increased by 2.6 percent, a figure that was in line with most district administrators. All but four district employees included in the calculation saw their pay increase from 2010 to 2011.


Pottawatomie County: The pay of Pottawatomie County employees rose an average of 1.3 percent, to an average of $38,560 in 2011. The county’s two top public officials were not as fortunate. Administrator Robert Reece saw his pay decline about 10 percent, from $131,960 in 2010 to $119,612 last year. Leu Lowery, public works director, saw his pay drop from $109,092 to $107,001, a two percent fall. County Atty. Sherry Schuck was more fortunate, seeing her pay increase nearly 9 percent, from $81,783 to $88,985.


USD 320: Employees of Wamego USD 320 saw their pay hold almost steady during 2011. Average compensation of the 149 persons doing the same jobs both years increased fractionally, from $41,888 in 2010 to $41,975. The superintendent’s position changed during the year, but the gross pay figures of other top administrators were marginally better than the overall picture, generally rising by about 1 percent.


Wamego: Alone among the 11 local units of government examined this year, employees of the city of Wamego saw their average compensation decline during 2011. The average Wamego city worker doing the same job in both 2010 and 2011 earned $39,860 last year, down about 1.6 percent from $40,511 in 2010. Only eight employees got compensation increases for doing the same job; 23 saw their gross pay decline. City manager Merl Page was among the losers, his pay falling about 3.7 percent, from $94,072 to $90,653. Police chief Michael Baker took a lesser hit, his pay falling about three-quarters of one percent, to $54,939.


USD 378: As in USD 320, pay was essentially flat in USD 378 Riley County during 211. The 54 employees comprising the data field averaged $42,390 in pay, up about one-quarter of one percent from 2010. Supt. Donald Starnes did a bit better than that, earning $82,864, about 1.3 percent above his 2010 pay. Six of the3 district’s 10 highest paid employees saw compensation declines during the year, but in no case were those more than two and a fraction percentage points.


USD 384: Two dozen employees of USD 384 did the same jobs during 2010 and 2011, and they averaged almost precisely a one percent compensation increase. The average was $41,663 in 2011 and $40,729 in 2010. Supt. Brady Burton was the top wager-earner at $81,730, three percent more than the $79,350 he earned in 2010.


MATC: The average compensation of 30 employees doing the same work at Manhattan Area Technical College during 2010 and 2011 increased by 2.9 percent, from $52,194 to $53,750. President Rob Edleston’s gross exceeded that average, rising 4.9 percent from $103,909 to $108,957. Marilyn Mahan, vice president for instructional services, and Jane Bloodgood, vice president for business services, saw similar increases. Mahan’s pay rose 8.6 percent, from $62,388 to $67,734, while Bloodgood’s climbed 7.9 percent, from $61,315 to $66,147.


Kansas State University: Because of the wide disparity in pay levels at institutions of higher education, even among those with superficially similar titles, any quick analysis of pay data needs to be viewed as superficial. There is no clearer illustration of this reality than within the professorial ranks.

For example, the average full professor at K-State made $109,179 in 2011, about six-tenths of one percent more than in 2010. But it made a big difference what those professors were professors of. A full professor of biology, for example, averaged $105,153. But a full professor of English only earned $78,961. There were 11 professors of mechanical and electrical engineering, and they made on average $127,962. There were nine professors of management, and they managed on an average of $178,917. But the dozen full professors of family studies and human services had to make do on $95,543. And the four full professors of art earned on average just $65,580.

With that qualifier on the record, here’s the broad-brush picture for all the academic ranks at K-State:


    2011   2010 % Change

Post-doctoral Fellow: $34,230 $34,846 -1.77

Instructor   $47,171 $46,025 +2.49

Asst. Professor   $61,749 $64,181 -2.38

Assoc. Professor $81,295 $81,111 +0.23

Professor   $109,179 $108,479 +0.65

Distinguished Prof. $140,506 $144,161 -2.54

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