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September 14th, 2011 COREY PEIN | News Stories
 

Public Paydays

City and county workers aren’t getting rich—but they’re doing better than their neighbors.

news3_publicpayday_3745MONETARY DIVIDE - ILLUSTRATION: Daniel Zender
Mayor Sam Adams and other local leaders want to attract renewed attention to growing economic disparities across the city (“Equally Confused,” WW, Aug. 31, 2011).

There’s one gap they may prefer not to dwell on: The relatively attractive compensation of local public employees compared to the rest of us.

The median household income in Portland is roughly $47,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

New public data obtained by WW show that the majority of city of Portland and Multnomah County employees are doing better individually than most Portland households. 

Records show the median annual pay for a city employee is $51,400; at the county, $53,600.

At least 772 city and county employees make more than $100,000 a year, not counting benefits. That’s about 6 percent of the county and city workforce combined. 

While that won’t exactly get them an invite to Davos, Aspen or even the Multnomah Athletic Club, it does clearly place them among what’s left of the city’s middle and upper-middle classes. 

The numbers also indicate that workers in some departments do better than those elsewhere in the bureaucracy. The Portland Fire Bureau, for instance, pays management and senior union workers better than even the overtime-friendly Portland Police Bureau. 

The pay figures for these local government workers do not include their health benefits or contributions to their Oregon Public Employees Retirement System pensions. 

The greatest disparity these public pay numbers reveal may be how few Portlanders could actually make the cut for good government jobs. 

More than half of Portlanders over 25 have not completed so much as an associate’s degree—which tends to limit their earning potential, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis.

Better-paid public employees tend to have advanced degrees (including M.D.s and J.D.s.) or professional certifications (including police officers and firefighters). 

Last week, WW published the salary data for 9,000 city employees—and a table of the best-paid among them—at wweek.com/citypay. 

This week, we publish the numbers on 4,600 county employees below.

Some words of caution: The city and county report their numbers differently, so that prevents a reliable apples-to-apples comparison. For instance, the county’s salary list doesn’t tally each employee’s earned overtime; the city’s does.

The county also accounts separately for more than 1,150 on-call employees, who make between $9.50 and $90 an hour (animal-care aide on one end, dentists on the other).

We’ll update the info online as we obtain more. 

Meanwhile, here are some examples of what we found:

 

Multnomah County Employee Salaries: 1-999



Multnomah County Employee Salaries: 1,000-1,999



Multnomah County Employee Salaries: 2,000-2,999



Multnomah County Employee Salaries: 3,000-3,999



Multnomah County Employee Salaries: 4,000-4,660





Top 20 Highest-Paid Multnomah County Employees


Amit R. Shah, Health Department medical director: $169,925.00
Gary L. Oxman, Health Department health officer: $166,818.00
Ole Ersson, Health (Corrections) Department physician: $161,959.00
Karen S. Marks, Health (Corrections) Department physician: $160,386.00
Meena Mital, Health Department physician: $160,125.00
Robert W. Henriques, Health Department physician: $158,100.00
Paul W. DenOuden, Health Department physician: $158,100.00
Lillian M. Shirley, Health Department director: $157,116.00
Joanne Fuller, Human Services Department staff assistant: $157,116.00
Rodney D. Underhill, DA - Felony Court Department chief deputy district attorney: $155,618.00
Norman W. Frink Jr., DA Department chief deputy district attorney: $155,618.00
Melinda L. Harris, County Management Department director: $155,124.00
Sherry J. Swackhamer, Information Technology Department chief information officer: $153,000.00
Henry H. Lazenby Jr., County Attorney Department county attorney: $152,000.00
M. Cecilia A. Johnson, Community Services Department director: $146,900.00
Raisa Premysler, Health Department physician: $145,764.00
Mark N. Margoles, Health Department physician: $145,764.00
Scott M. Taylor, Community Justice Department department director: $141,768.00
Kathleen M. Tinkle, Human Services Department department director: $140,000.00
Jacqueline A. Weber, County Attorney Department deputy county attorney: $140,000.00
 
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