District attorney top earner in Fulton County

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira was the top earner among county government employees in 2013, although her salary is basically set by the state.

County government recently provided a list of the 15 highest-paid county employees last year. Ten different county departments were represented in the top 15 salaries. In two instances, employees who served under their department heads made more or near the salary of their bosses.

The name of Sira – who is elected and doesn’t receive overtime – topped the list with a $144,875 annual gross salary for 2013.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said recently that Sira’s salary is basically set by the state, although formally approved by the Fulton County Board of Supervisors.

The state has had a three-year plan to grant district attorney raises. In accordance with state Judiciary Law, the full-time district attorney has to receive an annual salary equivalent to the county judge salary in that county.

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors in May 2012 granted Sira a state-mandated raise from $119,800 per year to $140,300. With that action, the board mandated her future raises, in accordance with state action. Sira’s salary is slated to increase to $152,500, effective April 1, according to the 2012 board action.

Second on the list of top county earners was Jeff Bouchard, director of the county Department of Solid Waste, with a $99,481 gross salary in 2013.

Deputy Superintendent of Highways Rodney Montana grossed third on the list with $89,069 in 2013, which includes $22,176 in overtime.

Stead, who also serves as clerk of the board, was fourth with a salary of $88,146.

Director of Community Mental Health Services Ernest Gagnon earned $84,942 to round out the top five.

The rest of the top 15 wage earners in county government for 2013 follows: sixth, Superintendent of Highways and Facilities Mark Yost – $81,904; seventh, Department of Social Services Commissioner Sheryda Cooper – $81,039; eighth, First Assistant District Attorney Chad Brown – $79,674, which included $593 in overtime; ninth, Planning Director James Mraz – $79,207; 10th, former Public Health Director Denise Frederick – $74,118; 11th, Sheriff Thomas Lorey – $71,968; 12th – sheriff’s department Sgt. Herbert Roots Jr. – $70,459, which includes $13,999 in overtime; 13th, Probation Director Cynthia Licciardi – $69,532; 14th, Undersheriff Kevin Lenahan – $68,614, which includes $1,787 in overtime; 15th, Supervising Public Health Nurse Dale Woods – $67,870.

Perth Supervisor Greg Fagan, chairman of the board’s Finance Committee, said today that with longevity and overtime for certain employees, they are sometimes going to exceed the salaries of the heads of their departments.

“Operationally, I don’t know how you can avoid that,” Fagan said.

In the case of the sheriff, he said Lorey is an elected official whose salary won’t change that often. He said it is not unusual for a sergeant with overtime, Root, to be making close to that salary. In the Highways and Facilities case, he said Montana – ranked third compared to department head Yost’s sixth-place ranking – is in a very valuable supervisory role himself.

Fagan, who served as Personnel Committee chairman several years, said Fulton County’s salaries compare favorably to counties of similar size.

“For the most part, we’re in line,” he said.

But he said it is difficult to measure similar counties because of their differing structures and the way they are run.

“Overall, it’s hard to compare counties,” Fagan said. “None of us do things the same.”

Top 5

The top five highest-paid Fulton County employees in 2013 (gross earnings listed):

District Attorney Louise Sira: $144,875.

Solid Waste Director Jeff Bouchard: $99,481.

Deputy Superintendent of Highways Rodney Montana: $89,069 (includes $22,176 overtime).

Administrative Officer Jon Stead: $88,146.

Director of Community Mental Health Services Ernest Gagnon: $84,942

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.