November 28, 2014


Law enforcement veteran Lorain County’s top paid employee in 2013

Dennis Cavanaugh

Dennis Cavanaugh

ELYRIA – Lorain County Chief Deputy Sheriff Dennis Cavanaugh was the county’s highest paid employee in 2013.

It was the first time the 41-year veteran of law enforcement cracked the list of the county’s top 10 highest paid employees. He earned $145,086.43 last year, according to figures provided by county Auditor Craig Snodgrass’ office.

Cavanaugh’s earnings were so high because he retired at the end of 2012 and was paid out for unused sick and vacation leave. His regular salary was $97,062.36, but that was coupled with $48,024.07 in payouts.

Cavanaugh said he’s been eligible to retire and return to work, an entirely legal, though controversial practice known as “double-dipping,” for years. He said the only reason he did so was because of changes to how the state would be calculating his retirement payouts in the future if he didn’t retire at the end of last year.

“I was told if you didn’t do it here, you’re actually going to lose it,” he said.

Sheriff Phil Stammitti said that changes to state law meant that Cavanaugh would have received a reduced cost-of-living increase in retirement if he hadn’t retired. He also said he didn’t want to lose Cavanaugh’s leadership at either the sheriff’s office or the Lorain County Drug Task Force, which Cavanaugh oversees.

“He’s one of the hardest working, loyalist guys at the sheriff’s office,” Stammitti said.

The second-highest paid employee in the county was Gary Crow, who earned $139,240.20, in salary and retirements payouts during his stint as director of Lorain County Children Services, a job he left last year.

County Engineer Ken Carney was the third-highest paid employee, earning a total salary of $132,869.58. Of that, $99,209 came from being engineer, while he earned another $33,660.58 as the county’s sanitary engineer.

County Administrator Jim Cordes earned $129,156.80 last year, finishing fourth. Cordes had earned $117, 603.20 in 2012, but he said he received a 3 percent raise as well as cashing out unused sick and vacation time, which boosted his earnings.

Cordes said that program is available to most county worker and allows them to get paid for one hour of unused time for every two hours they cash in.

Snodgrass, who became auditor following the retirement of his predecessor, Mark Stewart at the end of 2012, was the county’s fifth-highest paid worker in 2013. He earned a total of $128,859.97, which included his salary and cashing out unused sick and vacation time when he made the transition from employee to elected official.

Amber Fisher, superintendent of the Lorain County Board of Development Disabilities, earned $123,334.81 last year, making her the county’s sixth-highest paid worker.

Charlie Neff, director or the Lorain County Board of Mental Health, was the seventh-highest paid worker last year, earning $122,088.45

Mental Health’s business operations director, Joseph Carver, was the eight-highest paid employee, earning $122,038.73. Neff said Carver’s pay was so high this year because he left Children Services to work for Mental Health and was able to cash out unused sick and vacation time when he did so.

In terms of salary, the county’s 10 elected judges would each finish out as the ninth-highest paid employees of the county with salaries of $121,350, but the county only pays $14,000 of that. Probate Judge James Walther, the county’s presiding judge, said the remaining $107,350 of the judges’ salaries is paid by the Ohio Supreme Court.

If the judges aren’t included, Mary Lou Golski, director of the county’s Department of Job and Family Services is the ninth-highest paid employee. She earned $119,980.20 last year.

Rounding out the top 10 list are county Prosecutor Dennis Will and county Coroner Stephen Evans, who each earned $115,703 last year, making them tied for the 10th highest salaries in county government in 2013.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or

Top 10 highest-paid employees in Lorain County government in 2013*

  1. Dennis Cavanaugh, $145,086.43
  2. Gary Crow, $139,240.20
  3. Ken Carney, $132,869.58
  4. Jim Cordes, $129,156.80
  5. Craig Snodgrass, $128,859.97
  6. Amber Fisher, $123,334.81
  7. Charlie Neff, $122,088.45
  8. Joseph Carver, $122,038.73
  9. Mary Lou Golski, $119,980.20
  10. Dennis Will and Stephen Evans (tie), $115,703

* The 10 judges in the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas have been excluded from this list because the county paid only $14,000 of their $121,350 annual salaries. The remaining $107,350 of their salaries was paid by the Ohio Supreme Court.

  • levtrotsky

    When you consider the average household income for taxpayers in the Elyria/Lorain area is in the $30-$40,000 range, the public employees take-homes with there perks & parachutes looks obscene by comparison !

  • taxpayer89

    Everyone gets the same opportunities, instead of complaining about one’s salary maybe you should think that you should have taken the test and got a good paying job.

    • 2muchgovernment

      Sorry. The fact is not everyone gets the same opportunities if you don’t “know the right people”.

      • taxpayer89

        Same as police and fire department everyone complains,” they get to take cars home, they get overtime, wah wah wah, ” then you should have taken the test or gone to college for a better paying job. My buddy is a cop and didn’t know a soul in his department, he just took the test and worked his way up.

        • Daniel Sutter

          When I wanted in, they were only hiring minorities in the fire department (they lowered the bar for minorities)

      • Bob Owens

        Even in corporate America it doesn’t hurt to “know” someone. Don’t fall for the income envy.

        • 2muchgovernment

          My issue with getting a job because you “know someone” is that the most “qualified” person may not be getting the job. So what’s the point in someone furthering their education or bettering themself only to get passed over because they didn’t know someone on the inside?

    • levtrotsky

      no complaint about salary….but perks & parachutes!
      Sick limit to 3000 hours. Vacation -use or lose every year. Very simple ground rules.

      • levtrotsky

        Oops 300 hours!

        • 2muchgovernment

          Agree 100%. Sick time is a benefit that should ONLY be used when you are sick and should not be carried forward and accumulated each year. I don’t know of any private sector businesses that allows its employees to do this. It should not be used to subsidize your retirement.

    • Daniel Sutter

      Majority of the people hired by local goveremnt is all buddy buddy hiring. Test don’t mean crap.

  • Oneday67

    But, but…but…but these employees are getting more than their “fair share”. Obozo doesn’t like that

    • Rtgh123


      • Oneday67

        I agree. Very dumb because there is no such thing as “fair share.” Tell your boy Obozo. Clown

        • Rtgh123

          But… but… but… but… but… your comments are still inarticulate and dumb.

          • Oneday67

            good one, clown

  • RealLHS

    Vote no on all tax increases. This is where the money goes.

  • John Boy

    I don’t mind someone earning a good salary, but I’m sorry sick time is for when you are sick not to be cashed out when you retire. If you can cash out with 48K+ in vacation and sick time when you retire that is an excessive benefit and beyond what is required for a normal person.

  • Joe

    I never knew a soul when I started in public employment. Take the test and move on up some day. I quit a high paying job with no benefits so that 10 years later I would be ahead. And if you think living in St.Judes area is living high on the hog then I feel real sorry for you.

  • Arietta Sullivan

    i’m happy for all of them or anyone else who has these types of opportunities IF they earned it,truly. personally, i am happy with my life and never have or will envy someone else’s life/income cause money isn’t everything&someone who has a good income,it doesn’t show that their life doesn’t have problems,that money can’t resolve.

  • GreatRedeemer

    Over generous sick time and retirement payouts need to change in the public sector.
    I happened to come across a blog of a city employee that was lamenting how a recent trip the emergency room and other procedures were absolutely free on the city insurance plan.
    How does that compare in the private sector or with Obamacare ? It’s an example of an unsustainable system. he The many can no longer afford the few.

  • SniperFire

    The jobs could be filled, with people standing in line by the thousands, for half the compensation package. The fact is these public servants are simply overpaid.

  • jz

    No police officer is overpaid. But, we still need to abandon the drug war policies.

    • 2muchgovernment

      I agree. The people who deserve to be well paid are the people risking their lives each day.

  • Simon Jester

    Don’t ever ask me for a levy again..

  • Simon Jester

    Well, I for one am glad that that useless drunk Carney gets paid twice. Gotta pay for that topshelf hooch somehow!

    As to the voters that keep bringing these parasites back;

    “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

    H. L. Mencken

  • Summer Smart

    There are an awful lot of high incomes paid for by the levy for Murray Ridge. Too bad they pay the average worker $10 an hour and they wonder why they can’t keep people.