Big paydays for Delaware state employees

DOVER — In Delaware, 158 state employees were paid more than $150,000 in 2015.

But that’s not all.

Data from the Office of Management and Budget shows about 1,500 employees were paid at least $100,000 last year. That counts salary, overtime and other benefits, which can include holiday earnings, hazard duty or sick leave payout.

The top paid include the expected names, like Gov. Jack Markell, Delaware Technical Community College President Mark Brainard and 52 judges. But, while the list is populated by decision-makers and administrators, not everyone being paid $150,000 fits in those categories.

The highest-paid employees generally can be placed into one of four categories, with about 90 percent of those who earned $150,000 falling into the legal system, law enforcement, education or health.

Among the highest-paid employees are a few state troopers, correctional officers and nurses, whose pay can be augmented by overtime.

HIGHEST-PAID STATE EMPLOYEES This list of the highest-paid Delaware employees includes base salary as well as overtime and other pay. 1 — Brandywine School District Superintendent Mark Holodick, $246,071.52 2 — Chief Medical Examiner Gary Collins, $239,475.04 3 — Children’s Department Psychiatrist Richard Margolis, $232,242.09 4 — Delaware Technical Community College President Mark Brainard, $226,759.04 5 — Correction Department Medical Director Vincent Carr, $219,575.15  6 — Police patrol trooper Brian Mulvena, $218,001.73 7 — Delaware Psychiatric Center Chief Psychiatrist Charles Yiming Jin, $217,954.89 8 — Health and Social Services Department Medical Director Gerard Gallucci, $215,450.78 9 — Substance Abuse and Mental Health Medical Director Dyanne Simpson, $210,519.07 10 — Assistant Medical Examiner, Edward McDonough, $204.875.28

HIGHEST-PAID STATE EMPLOYEES
This list of the highest-paid Delaware employees includes base salary as well as overtime and other pay.
1 — Brandywine School District Superintendent Mark Holodick, $246,071.52
2 — Chief Medical Examiner Gary Collins, $239,475.04
3 — Children’s Department Psychiatrist Richard Margolis, $232,242.09
4 — Delaware Technical Community College President Mark Brainard, $226,759.04
5 — Correction Department Medical Director Vincent Carr, $219,575.15
6 — Police patrol trooper Brian Mulvena, $218,001.73
7 — Delaware Psychiatric Center Chief Psychiatrist Charles Yiming Jin, $217,954.89
8 — Health and Social Services Department Medical Director Gerard Gallucci, $215,450.78
9 — Substance Abuse and Mental Health Medical Director Dyanne Simpson, $210,519.07
10 — Assistant Medical Examiner, Edward McDonough, $204.875.28

Because the data contains about 58,000 entries and records employees who worked for different departments or were paid by separate agencies twice, the number of six-figure earners is not exact.

It does allow a look at what state employees were paid, particularly those who are outliers.

Though all pay is included in the data, not all earnings recorded as coming from overtime or other sources are state-funded. Police officers, for example, can volunteer to work at a sporting event or construction site, with pay generally coming from private sources.

School superintendents also can negotiate additional pay or incentives with their district, such as use of a car.

According to the most recent report from the Delaware Department of Labor, the average employee in the state government was paid $12,592 from July to August. That projects to $50,368 over a full year, a figure in line with the $49,520 mean pay given by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in its May 2014 data, the most updated information available.

The labor report says the average Delawarean employed by the state was paid $12,882 in the third quarter of 2015 — $51,528 over 12 months, slightly more than all workers in the state.

Mike Begatto, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 81, the union which represents about 4,000 state government employees, claims that despite the high numbers at the top of the list, the typical Delaware government employee is underpaid.

“It feels that Delaware is very backward when it comes to adequately paying the jobs that people do,” he said.

Correctional Officers Association of Delaware President Geoff Klopp has a similar sentiment. While he said more people earned six figures than he would expect, he said that still represents a small percentage of employees overall.

Top paid

Of the approximately 49,000 people recorded as having worked for the state in some capacity in 2015, no one made more than Brandywine School District Superintendent Mark Holodick, who was paid $246,071.52.

His base salary of about $195,000 put him among the highest paid, but it’s an additional $51,000 that vaults him into the top spot. That money likely comes from his contract negotiated with the district, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Second in total earnings was Chief Medical Examiner Gary Collins. All of his $239,475.04 came from salary, making his base pay the highest in the state. Dr. Collins was hired in September 2014 to succeed Dr. Richard Callery, the chief of the Medical Examiner’s Office, who was fired in July 2014 over allegations he was misusing state resources for his own business.

The Division of Forensic Science replaced the office.

Third in total pay, with $232,242.09, was Dr. Richard Margolis, a psychiatrist with the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families. Dr. Margolis is “immensely qualified” and has many duties, such as handling contracts, helping run the department’s Medicaid program and providing direct care to children in detention centers, department spokeswoman Dawn Thompson said.

Dr. Mark T. Brainard

Dr. Mark T. Brainard

DelTech’s Dr. Brainard, who was selected to head the college in August of 2014, was the fourth-highest-paid state employee, with $226,759.04. His base salary was about $225,000.

Correctional Medical Director Vincent Carr ranked fifth in total pay, earning $219,575.15.

Chief Justice Leo Strine was 12th in pay, with $201,106.06. Several dozen other judges are not far behind on the list.

Salaries for the governor, judges, cabinet secretaries and lawmakers are spelled out in the annual budget bill, and earnings for Gov. Markell and nearly all members of the judiciary do not include anything beyond base pay.

At $171,000 Gov. Markell was the highest-paid elected official, dwarfing the state’s other politicians (members of Congress are paid $174,000, but they are treated as federal employees).

The current budget bill set the salary for legislators at $44,541. From there, they can receive various stipends for serving on key committees or in a leadership role. The Senate president pro tempore and the House speaker receive the most additional pay, $19,893 more for their duties as the top member of each chamber.

Legislators also have an expense account set in the budget bill every year. In 2015, the members of the General Assembly were each paid $7,334 extra.

Overtime

Forty-six people were paid at least $50,000 in overtime in 2015. All but five came from the Department of Safety and Homeland Security or the Department of Correction.

The state currently has a shortage of correctional officers, due in part to a spate of retirements from employees who become eligible for pensions thanks to service time, Department of Correction spokeswoman Chelsea Hicks said.

Leo Strine is the 12h-highest-paid state employee.

Leo Strine is the 12h-highest-paid state employee.

Mr. Klopp, of the correction officers union, thinks salaries are too low to attract many workers, compounding the problem.

Because having too few employees is a security concern, treatment counselors, as well as officers in corrections, probation and parole are eligible to work up to 40 hours in overtime per week.

Overtime is handed out by seniority at each correctional center with the longest-serving employees having the first chance to volunteer. If a facility is unable to fill its needed allotment based on volunteers who work there, a call is put out to all state correctional officers, Ms. Hicks said.

Ms. Hicks said she was not surprised 13 correctional employees made more than $50,000 in overtime pay alone. None had a salary higher than $47,000, meaning they were able to more than double their pay last year.

The department spent about $20 million on overtime in the most recently completed fiscal year, according to a report prepared by a state committee analyzing expenses.

Due to efforts to reduce costs, the state is down about 1,100 positions, or 680 people, since the start of the Markell administration in January 2009.

No category of employees took advantage of overtime like members of the Delaware State Police. Twenty-three officers were paid at least $50,000 in overtime.

“Most of the state police overtime is billed to vendors like construction companies, retailers, traffic detail at churches and schools hiring troopers for off-hours ‘special duty’ jobs, providing security at high school football games and construction sites and directing traffic at the Christiana Mall,” spokesman Sgt. Richard Bratz wrote in an email.

“Troopers are limited to a set number of hours weekly for off-duty jobs and work on a volunteer basis within divisional policy. All outside work is closely monitored by the state police leadership to ensure we put well-rested troopers on the road that are fit for duty.”

While some police and correctional officers made a substantial amount in extra pay, a nurse with the Delaware Psychiatric Center topped every other person. Ekeoma Wogu, who has a salary of about $61,000, was paid in excess of $127,000 for extra work, causing her to skyrocket up the list of the top earners.

The center is a 24/7 facility that must remain staffed at a certain level, DHSS spokeswoman Jill Fredel said.

Some employees have moved to private hospitals, which typically can pay better, creating overtime opportunities, she noted.

Overtime for DHSS is voluntary and is rotated through employees.

“Some people put a higher priority on spending time with their families,” Ms. Fredel said. “They want to work their regular shift, their regular work week, and some people say, ‘I’ll take the overtime.’”

Three other DHSS workers, all of whom were stationed at the Delaware Psychiatric Center, surpassed $50,000 in overtime pay last year.

In all, Delaware spent about $57 million on overtime costs.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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