August 31, 2015

Elyria
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Elyria employee earnings

ELYRIA — In 2011, Dan Jaykel was the second-highest paid city employee.

In 2012, he jumped to the top of the list, making the now-former assistant safety service director the highest-paid employee in the city.

Jaykel, who prior to his gig in the mayor’s office was a high-ranking captain in the Police Department with more than 32 years on the job, made $150,408.55 in 2011. He left his most-recent post earlier this month, citing health concerns in his resignation letter.

When Jaykel retired from his police job toward the end of 2011, City Finance Director Ted Pileski said he opted to receive the payoff for unused sick and vacation time over two years. As a result, he received $38,745.31 in 2011 and $77,399.28 in 2012.

Those payouts traditionally bump employees into the Top 10 list each year, but the number of employees who receive generous separation checks is dwindling.

In July 1985, the city changed its policy limiting the number of hours employees could bank and then receive full payment upon retirement. The policy was changed to prevent employees from walking away with tens of thousands of dollars at a time, which could wreck havoc on the city’s budget, Pileski said.

But it was not retirement payouts that pushed a number of salaries up in 2012.

A look at the city’s 2012 wage report shows that from Mayor Holly Brinda to an attendant at the ice skating rink, the city paid out millions to 644 full-time, part-time and seasonal workers. A number of those employees received thousands in overtime — sometimes as much as a typical full-time salary in some occupations.

For example, Police Patrolman William Witt, who was also the fourth-highest-paid city employee of 2012, pulled in the most overtime in the year — a whopping $45,200. It pushed his base salary of $51,665 well into six figures. Whitt was hired in September 1994.

Witt is consistently the highest overtime-earner in the department, making more than $50,000 in 2011 and $21,291.11 in 2010.

A year ago, when overtime in the Police Department reached an all-time high, Brinda said she hoped to reduce the figure drastically. She has had some success, she said, but not nearly as much as she would like.

“Really, we have been looking at ways to get overtime down across the city,” she said. “But that is a part of a larger discussion about compensation in the city. We want to be fair. Employees deserve fair compensation, but we shouldn’t be relying on overtime and longevity to do that.”

Year to date, Brinda said overtime is down $24,000 across the city.

This year, Brinda said she hopes to make a lot more progress in reducing overtime, especially in the Police and Fire departments. Now that a civil service list for hiring and promotion eligibility has been certified and a number of promotions have taken place, the figure should go down, she said.

“We were paying overtime for acting officer pay in the Police and Fire departments,” she said. “Once we were able to move people into higher leadership positions, we stopped paying the overtime. But that did not come until late in the year.”

Brinda also said both departments are operating with federal grants that serve to encourage overtime, especially in the Police Department, where a national COPS grant is designed specifically to pay for overtime.

The COPS grant runs out at the end of 2014, Brinda said.

In the meantime, this year will be the year a number of collective bargaining agreements are looked at by the city. Only through negotiations can some of the stipulations that dictate overtime — like those with the most seniority having the first right of refusal when it comes to overtime — change.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.

Complete listing of employee earnings

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About Lisa Roberson

Lisa Roberson has been with the Chronicle since 2006, and covers Elyria city government and public education. She can be reached at 329-7121 or LRoberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter.