Overtime places two among top 10 moneymakers

Officer almost doubled his salary

battalion leader outearned fire chief

July 29, 2005|By Melissa Harris | Melissa Harris,SUN STAFF

Police Corp. Donald C. Wyant works night shifts and issues more tickets and makes more arrests than most. That means that during the day - his off time - he has to go to court and wait until a judge calls him to defend those tickets and arrests.

Those hours have paid off handsomely for him.

He earned time and a half during that time, which is largely how he made $131,378 during the last fiscal year, or $334 less than County Executive James N. Robey. Wyant's overtime pay nearly doubled his salary and put him at No. 7 on the list of the top 10 Howard County government earners.

Other than Wyant and one firefighter supervisor, the list is populated with the county's highest-salaried staff - its chief administrator, top lawyer, police chief, public works director, now-retired budget chief, top engineers and Robey. Wyant and fire Battalion Chief Michael Butt worked overtime to muscle their way onto the list.

Wyant, who joined the police force 21 years ago and earned $69,390 in base salary last year, declined to comment for this article. Department spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn called Wyant an "experienced and effective officer," who signs up for many special details.

"Alarm calls and domestic disturbance calls may dominate a regular shift and may not result in enforcement," Llewellyn said. "The complete focus of special details is enforcement. That's going to generate a lot of tickets and a lot of court time."

Butt made the list at No. 9, increasing his salary from $83,865 to $124,138, which is more than Fire Chief Joseph A. Herr earned.

Herr said that Butt's former position, which he held for the first half of the fiscal year, required him to respond to the scene of most major incidents. As the department's only safety officer, Butt and the incident commander would decide when to pull back firefighters or when to replace them with fresh crews. Paging Butt to a scene after hours costs the department time and a half.

Now, as the department's special operations officer, Butt supervises all incidents involving hazardous materials, as well as trickier rescues involving water, trenches, ice, ropes, confined spaces and building collapses. The same pay policy for after-hours calls applies.

"He'd also sometimes get called into work as a regular battalion chief on weekends because we've been short so many people," Herr said. "There's a lot of times when people get asked to fill a shift when there's a need, and they feel an obligation to help. We have to compensate them for that."

Overtime has been a hot topic in public safety. The Police Department paid officers $42,333 in overtime to guard Miss USA contestants at the Sheraton Columbia hotel in March.

The Department of Fire and Rescue Services also tallied record overtime expenses. The fire department expected to spend $3.3 million on overtime last year, nearly doubling its $1.8 million budget. The department ended the fiscal year slightly less over budget in this area than expected, at $3.04 million.

Herr said that next year's overtime budget will increase from $1.8 million to $2.8 million to account for continued improvements to the department's emergency medical response. Herr wants to man each fire engine with a paramedic, rather than a less-skilled emergency medical technician, at all times.

These EMTs will miss shifts to attend paramedic training, and their replacements are paid time and a half.

"We're going to be involved in pretty intense training programs until March," Herr said. "There's a lot we're doing to meet our mission, and we're budgeting appropriately for them this year."

Top 10 Howard County government earners


Name Job title Gross

Raquel Sanudo Chief Administrative Officer $154,289.98

James M. Irvin Director of Public Works $148,806.53

G. Wayne Livesay Chief of Police $141,595.55

Barbara M. Cook County Solicitor $136,073.03

James N. Robey County Executive $131,711.56

Donald C. Wyant Police Corporal $131,377.95

Raymond S. Wacks* Budget Administrator $126,481.31

John J. Ohara Engineering Manager II $125,390.47

Michael G. Butt Battalion Chief $124,138.65

Robert M. Beringer Engineering Manager II $123,482.21

* Wacks retired March 2

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