By BOB PALMER
Jimplecute News Editor
Responding to Texas Freedom of Information requests by the Jefferson Jimplecute, local government entities revealed their payroll information this week.
Jimplecute Publisher Mica Wilhite explained the FOI requests were an exercise in open government.
“Salaries of public employees are public record, and the public is entitled to know that information,” Wilhite said.
The Jimplecute publisher argued everyone benefits from open government. Making this data available assures citizens that leaders are not abusing the system and helps prevent abuses happening in the future.
“However, that is not the most important reason,” Wilhite said. “Does your child have a talented new teacher at JISD? In a time when state raises for teachers are being considered, are you surprised that teacher only makes $30,000 per year?”
The inquiries showed Jefferson ISD Superintendent Rob Barnwell as the top wage earner among employees funded by local tax dollars at $130,000. According to 1Salary.com, the average superintendent’s salary in Texas is $149,865. Salaries for AAA schools range from $122,000 to $180,000.
The salary for the Avinger superintendent is $142,000. In Tatum the pay is $142,500, and in Atlanta the salary is $144,767.
The Jimplecute investigation also revealed County Judge Leward LaFleur earns $39,544 from the county. The state supplements his pay with another $25,200.
The Texas Association of County Judges reports that for the 58 counties with populations between 10,000 and 24,999, the amount paid by the county to the county judge averaged $48,800.
Zavala County paid the least at $26,562. Andrews County paid $78,000. Ward County topped out at $85,000 while Red River County paid $32,550.
Former City Administrator Kevin Huckabee was paid $80,000 per year.
Small cities (2,000-5,000 population) in Texas gravitated to the $80,000 number for city administrators or managers. The average pay across the state is $88,589.
Early pays $80,000 per year. Ferris is $81,000 and Atlanta is $107,000. Clarksville pays $65,000.
The salaries of all public employees in Marion County can be found below. Hire date and basic demographics are also available.
Highlights of the data released by each entity showed wages routinely below scale and a wide spread, in some cases, between the top earners and those on the bottom.
As with Superintendent Rob Barnwell’s $130,000 salary, most administrative and instructional personnel with Jefferson ISD appeared to make slightly less than the state average.
Texas Education Agency records show the average beginning teacher in a rural Texas district makes $33,610 per year. JISD teachers who started their career this academic year make just over $30,000.
The average teacher pay in rural districts according to TEA is $44,536. The state average overall is $53,335.
JISD teachers have an average income of $41,000 with a median income of $43,000. The lowest salary was $7,747 and the highest was $57,519. The district uses the state minimum salary schedule for teachers, nurses, librarians and counselors. The schedule calls for a new teacher to be paid $28,080 for a 10-month contract.
Athletic Director Antwain Jimmerson made $86,900. Business manager Mike Wood earns $84,652, and Curriculum Director Lynn Phillips receives $69,927.
Principal salaries ranged from $49,000 for Primary School Principal Brittany Giddens to $81,000 for JHS Principal Michael Walker. High School Assistant Principal Terry Johnson, who resigned this year, was budgeted for $76,000.
“Most of our salaries here in JISD will show to be below the average across the state if you compare us with other, similar-sized schools,” Barnwell said. “I would guess that most other schools in our region will also compare in the same way regarding the state’s average, since all of us are generally in a rural setting here in East Texas.”
Barnwell noted factors other than just pay that should be considered, such as how much money the district receives from the state and what is the district’s property tax rate. The superintendent also noted a benefit to local taxpayers that has an impact.
“JISD has maintained a 10% locally-optioned, homestead exemption, which is separate from other state-mandated exemptions,” Barnwell said. “Doing away with that exemption would result in hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in additional revenue. However, the JISD board and administration believes it is important to continue to offer this exemption to all its homeowners.”
The 91 Marion County employees draw a total of $1.9 million per year.
County Judge Leward LaFleur gets to double-dip from both county and state funds. LaFleur receives $39,544 from the county. The state kicks in another $25,200 in recognition of his judicial duties.
All countywide elected officers draw the same $39,544. They are County Clerk Vickie Smith, District Clerk Susan Anderson, Treasurer Terrie Neuville, Tax Assessor Karen Jones and Sheriff David McKnight. McKnight also receives another $400 per year.
County Attorney/District Attorney Angela Smoak receives $10,800 from the county, plus additional money from the state to bring her pay equal to that of a district judge ($158,000).
County Auditor Shanna Solomon earns $38,614.
County Commissioners J.R. Ashley, Charlie Treadwell, Joe McKnight and Glen Dorough each earn $34,795.
The top deputies in each department also earn close to what the elected official makes.
Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Frank Cason earns $38,513. Jail Captain Shelia Jean Stokes makes $31,768. Sheriff’s Department Investigator Robert B. Davis earns $32,733.
Deputy District Clerk BJ Westbrook earns $25,621. Chief Deputy County Clerk Kimberly Wise receives $26,821. Assistant DA Bill Gleason makes $28,433.
Pct. 1 Constable David Capps, who also draws a stipend as the county’s emergency management officer, makes a combined $38,000. Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Lena Pope makes $35,400. The Pct. 2 JP office pays $19,800. The Pct. 2 Constable Tashia Wilson receives $10,460.
Truck drivers make about $29,000. Courthouse clerks earn around $25,000 in most cases. Sheriff deputies receive between $30,000 and $33,000.
City of Jefferson
Without the burden of a city administrator’s salary, the Jefferson payroll is $644,440 per year.
In the past, a city administrator was paid $80,000.
Water Superintendent Allan R. Whatley draws the top pay of $47,424. City Secretary Doris Hines receives $46,612.
Mayor Charles “Bubba” Haggard, who fills the administrator’s post, receives $100 per month or $1,200 per year. Aldermen receive $600 per year. Accounting Officer Laury Manning receives $36,524 per year. City Judge Lena Pope makes $9,270 per year.
In the Police Department, Chief Gary Amburn makes $44,574. Investigator Jason D. Carroll earns $37,106.
Three officers are paid more than $36,000. Two officers receive more than $32,000. The department secretary makes $28,870. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, rural Northeast Texas police officers have a mean annual wage between $40,000 and $50,000.
Laborers in the Street Department make between $21,000 and $29,000 per year.
In the Water-Sewer Department, pay ranges from $33,500 for Johnny Nash to $25,750 for the department secretary.
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