30 percent of top salaried state employees work for Department of Public Safety

State employee overtime has been in the headlines this week as the Shumlin administration scrambled to get ahead of a story by Mike Donoghue of the Burlington Free Press.

Donoghue had the scoop on James Deeghan, a state police sergeant who is accused of falsifying overtime on his timesheet. He resigned on Wednesday morning, and several hours later Gov. Peter Shumlin held a press conference to declare that the state would not only investigate Deeghan, but would also start a broader probe into overtime pay for troopers.

On Friday, the Department of Human Resources released documents detailing the top 150 state salaries, a spreadsheet of all overtime pay listed by state employee, and a run down of overtime expenditures by department.

The takeaway? Two classified state employees in the Department of Health made more last year than the governor — Steven Shapiro, chief medical examiner ($191,574) and Elizabeth Bundock, deputy medical examiner ($173,914). Gov. Peter Shumlin’s gross pay was $158,402. Craig Jones, the director of the Blueprint for Health, is the next highest earner with a salary of $142,500. The three medical professionals are doctors.

Out of the 150 top paid state employees, 127 earn more than $100,000 or more, for a total of more than $12.7 million.

Who are the people in the top tier? Thirty percent of the top wage earners work for the Department of Public Safety (51). Two other groups dominate the list: judges (35), and agency secretaries and department commissioners (13).

Sgt. James Deeghan earned $136,574 and Sgt. Michael Roj made $140,928 in fiscal year 2012, including overtime pay. Col. Thomas L’Esperance, chief of the state police, earned $133,107. Keith Flynn, the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, which oversees the state police, took home $106,912.

Overtime details

Overtime expenditures were $16.2 million and increased by 12.5 percent in fiscal year 2011. The state will pay $18.5 million for overtime in 2012, according to a spreadsheet from the Department of Human Resources. The increase is 14 percent.

Kate Duffy, commissioner of the Department of Human Resources, says overtime costs would likely have been flat in fiscal year 2012 if it weren’t for $2.5 million in expenditures related to Tropical Storm Irene. The state spent $1 million more on overtime for mental health workers, and $1.2 million more on transportation employees in 2012.

In 2011, the state had a total of 7,742 workers, according to a summary of “statistical highlights” on page 13 of the Department of Human Resources January workforce report. The total is now 8,373. Since March the state has brought on 65 new workers. The average total compensation package for exempt (administration hires) and classified workers, including benefits is $74,595.

More than 142 state employees earned more than $15,000 in discretionary overtime compensation in fiscal year 2012. Of those, 41 work for the Department of Mental Health; 38 work for the Department of Public Safety; 24 are part of the Agency of Transportation; and 19 are employees of the Department of Corrections.

The information from the state does not include mandatory overtime for Department of Corrections and the Department of Mental Health employees.

In all, 47 state workers made $20,000 to $30,000 in discretionary overtime; five made between $30,000 and $50,000 in overtime pay.

The top five include:

Sgt. Michael Roj, Vermont State Police: $48,174
Brad McCormick, correctional officer, Department of Corrections: $36,350
Sgt. James Deeghan, Vermont State Police: $36,169
Laurie Lanphear, Deputy Director of Retirement Operations, State Treasurer’s office: $31,685
John Cannon, Correctional Facility Shift Supervisor, Department of Corrections, $31,395

Read Mike Donoghue’s analysis in the Burlington Free Press.

The Department of Human Resources documents can be viewed and downloaded at the bottom of this post. Because these are large files, they are compressed in the Document Cloud viewer. If you click on “PDF of spreadsheet” or “original document” on the righthand side of the page, you can see a large format version. The overtime pay spreadsheet is a very large file — it is still uploading.

CORRECTION: Thirty-eight employees for the Department of Public Safety earned more than $15,000 in overtime pay in 2012. We erroneously reported that the workers were with the Department of Public Service.

Anne Galloway

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  • MJ Farmer

    Anne, Please explain how the state had 7,742 workers in 2011 and now has 8,373 workers. This is an 8% increase. Did this just happnen? “Since March the state has brought on 65 new workers.” Is this in addition to the 8,373? When I moved here 25 years ago, IBM had the most employees, roughly 8,000, then hospital, roughly 5,000 then State, around 4,000. Now State is the largest at 8,373. Fletcher Allen 7,000 and IBM 5,000.

    • Hi MJ,
      The 65 new workers since March are included in the 8,373 total.
      I felt it was important to get the numbers out there based on documents from the Department of Human Resources, though I don’t know exactly why the totals have increased. A number of positions were added with the passage of the 2012 Budget Adjustment Act, in addition to the 65 workers built into the Big Bill for fiscal year 2013 passed in May.
      After I read through the documents Friday afternoon, I phoned Kate Duffy for comment, but she didn’t return my calls. I made them after 5 p.m. and she was probably gone for the weekend. I’ll try again on Monday and write a followup with her response.

    • Dave Bellini

      A good question that will probably never be answered completely, here’s why:

      What qualifies as a state “employee?” There are “classified” positions, permanent full time with benefits non-classified positions, temporary positions, part time positions, “limited service positions”, exempt positions, confidential positions and of course, the number one hiding place…….CONTRACTORS.

      So a temporary employee, working 40 hours a week, or more, doesn’t count as an employee. If the position is converted to a permanent position it adds one employee to the official state roster. But, does it increase the actual number of people working for the state? NO.

      CONTRACTORS: When Governor Douglas was busy patting himself on the back by “cutting” state government, he was ADDING private contractors to do the same work. Sometimes this saves money and sometimes it’s more expensive. But it’s a numbers game.

      The only way to get an accurate picture would be to look at all persons and programs that receive wages from the state by catagory and compare data year to year. Good luck getting information. The state of VT has little interest in transparency when it comes to temporary workers or contractors.

      How many temporary workers get hired each year by departments? I can’t get the data. No one is hiding the data. It’s a policy decision to not track temporary hires as it can be unflattering. That’s one example.

  • Tom Kauffmann

    In my opinion, as our country slowly morphs into a “benevolent dictatorship,” the state and municipal departments of public safety will be expanded due to the need to exert control over the citizens. With the expansion of these quasi-military police forces will come opportunities for extra pay, either through grants supplied by the Federal Department of Homeland Security, or from “direct funding” mechanisms such as receiving a percentage of the fines levied on the “wayward” citizenship. It’s no wonder the Vermont Department of Public Safety has the highest wage earners and I bet if the figures were known, it would be a similar situation in every state in the United States.

  • Fred Woogmaster

    An article (I believe from the Free Press) some months ago, listed the top 100 State of Vermont retirement recipients and the pensions they are receiving. The preponderance of those listed had been Public Safety employees, mostly Vermont State Police. For example – Police and Fire Chief Bombardier(Barre City) is one of many on that list, who in addition to receiving whatever salary and perks he is paid by the City of Barre, receives a pension valued at more than $60,000 annually.
    Overtime pay? False filings? (quid pro quo(s)) Police Academy scandal? An Attorney General who appears to have a “no fault” policy towards police? Tasers, non-lethal? Citizen driven oversight and review becomes more essential each and every day. The generous pensions and perks can create a climate ripe for corruption. Citizen support of police is essential; the integrity of the public safety system is crucial. Keep on it Digger – your work is most important!

    • Christian Noll

      Well said Fred.

  • Fred Woogmaster

    Reflections since my prior post:

    If the overtime pay of state employees becomes a factor in the determination of the amount of the retirement pension, it would have even greater meaning than I thought. If for example, John Imburgio (27th on the list of 100, retired VPS Lt. annual pension $70,759.00)”pulled” considerable overtime which increased that pension amount, overtime would have much greater significance.
    More than likely the vast majority of troopers are honest. If the system itself allows for or encourages abuse by those who are not honest,however, the system needs to be changed accordingly.

  • Jeff Ersonian

    Does this really surprise anyone considering the emerging Police State in this place formerly known as Vermont?

  • Rick Matthews

    In my place of employment, and in many companies in the private sector, overtime is completely disallowed with only minor exception, and I’m certain some managers are penalized for its use when incentives are outlined. What’s up with a taxpayer funded employee in a bureaucratic job taking home more overtime pay than thousands of Vermont citizens take home in salaries all year? This is one important area where our elected officials are failing us miserably, squandering our hard earned money.

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