At least 243 public employees in Deschutes County are making more than $100,000 this year — nearly double what 30 percent of Bend residents earn.
The Bulletin reviewed anticipated salaries for employees who work at the county’s major public agencies, including all school districts, park districts, as well as city, county and state agencies. Federal agencies weren’t included in the analysis, which looked at anticipated salaries for this year and didn’t include things such as overtime and bonuses.
The data showed that many public employee salaries have increased by thousands of dollars since the last time The Bulletin requested similar data in 2015. Raking in the highest salary is Oregon State University-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson, who’s making $270,096 this year — a nearly $40,000 increase since 2015. Among those earning $100,000 or more, Sunriver Fire Chief Art Hatch squeezed in at the bottom of the list, and will be paid just more than $102,000 this year.
The data show that some agencies such as Deschutes County, Bend-La Pine Schools and the city of Bend have dozens of employees that make at least $100,000 per year — 67, 49 and 42, respectively.
More than 30 state employees also earned $100,000 or more, including many judges, police officers and engineers. Smaller agencies such as the city of Sisters didn’t have any employees making more than $100,000 this year. Deschutes County’s highest-paid employee is Wil Berry, who will make more than $221,000 this year. Berry worked as a psychiatrist for the county before taking the job as medical director, overseeing medical departments at the county, ranging from behavioral health treatment to medical clinics.
After Berry, the next highest-paid employee is David Doyle, who is making about $164,500 this year and works as an attorney for the county. Doyle oversees three other attorneys, and manages cases and contracts for the county.
“Deschutes County salaries are structured to pay competitively against comparable markets in order to attract, award and retain a talented workforce,” said Erik Kropp, who is the deputy county administrator.
The city of Bend sets salaries after comparing them to other Oregon cities that are both smaller and larger than Bend, such as Medford, Gresham and Corvallis, said Rob DuValle, human resources director for the city. Once people are hired, they can get wage increases each year for good performance or through union negotiations, said DuValle.
“We set our wages so we’ll be competitive, so we won’t be out of market,” said DuValle.
In the city of Bend, City Manager Eric King was the highest paid employee, making just more than $176,000 this year, followed by Police Chief Jim Porter, Public Works Director Paul Rheault and Assistant City Manager Kevin Riper, who all made nearly $140,000.
A handful of employees at the Bend Park & Recreation District earn more than $100,000, with the highest-paid official, Executive Director Don Horton, making more than $176,000 this year. At the Bend-La Pine school district, Superintendent Shay Mikalson was the highest paid official and will earn nearly $172,000 this year. After Mikalson, Deputy Superintendent Jay Mathisen and Assistant Superintendent Lora Nordquist make $135,794 and $128,895, respectively.
But the highest earners in Deschutes County are by far the employees who work at OSU-Cascades, which recently opened a campus in west Bend that has about 1,100 students. A handful of their top-ranking officials, who all are women, are the county’s highest paid employees and expected to make more than $150,000 this year.
Johnson, the vice president, has received a $40,000 raise since 2015, according to the data. Steve Clark, vice president of relations and marketing for the university, said Johnson’s salary was increased after university officials compared her salary to other universities similar to Oregon, as well as schools in the Pac-12 Conference.
After Johnson, the next highest-paid OSU-Cascades official is Kelly Sparks, who will make more than $211,000 and is in charge of long range planning of the new Bend campus. Following Sparks, Julie Gess-Newsome is the dean of academic programs on the campus, and will make about $175,000.
“We evaluate the position and compare those within the university, and national university peers,” said Clark, adding that all employees — including Johnson, who’s worked for the university for nearly 30 years — are eligible for pay increase every 18 months.
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