For Immediate Release,
Contact Robert Fellner, 702-222-0642
LAS VEGAS — Cashing in unused leave for hundreds of thousands of dollars propelled several Metro police officers into the stratosphere of the state’s highest-compensated list, according to a survey of just-released 2015 salary data from TransparentNevada.com.
A $268,076 unused leave payout boosted retired Metro lieutenant Dennis Flynn’s total compensation package to $500,835 — making him Nevada’s 2nd highest-compensated government worker, behind the $552,011 received by Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority President Rossi Ralenkotter.
The survey draws on over 125,000 records obtained via public records requests made to every state, county and city agency in Nevada, as well as public-school and special districts.
After Ralenkotter and Flynn, the next three highest compensation packages went to:
- Retired Metro deputy chief Albert Salinas, whose $305,753 unused leave payout boosted his total compensation to: $456,096
- Clark County manager Donald Burnette, who collected: $436,469
- Retired North Las Vegas police chief Joseph Chronister, whose $269,420 unused leave payout boosted his total compensation to: $432,006
Metro officials stated that the policies authorizing such inflated unused leave payouts — Flynn’s was more than double his regular salary — have been discontinued and only apply to older employees.
Nevertheless, because the costs of existing and future employees will be borne by taxpayers for many years to come, these examples show why Nevada must embrace transparency in collective bargaining, according to Robert Fellner, director of transparency research at the Nevada Policy Research Institute.
“Enshrouding public bargaining in secrecy gives undue leverage to public unions, at taxpayer expense. Consequently, taxpayers only learn they must pay for these exorbitant perks when it comes time to pick up the tab.”
Overtime payouts more than doubled regular salary
Clark County’s 31.2 percent increase in overtime spending was the highest of any Nevada government, followed by 29.3 and 22.5 percent increases, respectively, in the Reno and Henderson city governments.
The top five largest overtime (OT) payments as a percentage of salary went to:
- Washoe County Deputy Sheriff Joe Bowen, whose $111,899 OT payout was nearly 55 percent more than his $72,388 salary.
- Las Vegas Fire Material Management Supervisor Jordan Bridges, whose $107,069 OT payout was 50 percent more than his $71,450 salary.
- Clark County Juvenile Probation Officer Derrick Giles, whose $95,478 OT payout was 33 percent more than his $71,572 salary.
- Las Vegas Corrections Officer Rodolfo Padilla, whose $137,268 OT payout was 31 percent more than his $104,475 salary.
- State of Nevada Corrections Officer Tom Tolbert, whose $67,747 OT payout was nearly 30 percent more than his $52,328 salary.
Benefits push average compensation over $100k
The average compensation for full-time, year-round employees of the three largest Southern Nevada municipalities was:
- Clark County: $105,077
- Henderson: $128,872
- Las Vegas: $131,403
Fellner noted a key driver behind the average six-figure compensation packages are extraordinarily rich retirement benefits that, shockingly, are entirely funded by taxpayers.
“While the median private employer spends 3 percent of pay on his or her employees’ retirement accounts, Nevada’s safety and non-safety local government workers receive benefits that cost 28 and 40 percent of pay, respectively.
“Nevadans can expect higher taxes or service cuts if they are forced to continue paying for retirement benefits that are nearly ten times richer than what they themselves are likely to receive.
“In 2013 — the most recent year data was available — Nevada’s local governments spent a national-high 9.6 percent of direct general expenditures on retirement costs, nearly quadruple the 2.5 percent national average.”
To view the entire dataset in a searchable and downloadable format, visit TransparentNevada.com.
Compensation is defined as total pay plus the employer-cost of health and retirement benefits. Full-time, year-round employees are defined as those who worked at least 1,720 hours in 2015.
For more information or to schedule an interview with NPRI, please contact Robert Fellner at 702-222-0642 or RF@npri.org.