News Story

26 Grand Rapids City Employees Received $20k-Plus in Overtime

There were city 378 city workers getting $80,000 or more in 2017

Just two Grand Rapids police officers, Joseph Garrett and Brad Bush, collected a combined $97,685 in overtime pay in 2017, making them among the highest-paid city employees.

Bush received $48,420 in overtime payments, which pushed his gross salary to $132,994. Garrett received $49,265 in overtime, contributing to a gross salary of $124,775.

A Grand Rapids police officer’s top regular pay rate is $35.71 an hour, or $74,296 a year, according to the union contract. At that pay rate, Bush would have had to work 904 hours of overtime — or 17.38 hours a week — to accumulate $48,420 in overtime. For his part, Garrett would have had to work 919 hours of overtime – or 17.68 hours a week – to make $49,265 in overtime.

There were 26 Grand Rapids city employees who collected more than $20,000 in overtime in 2017. A police dispatcher received overtime payments of $26,397, which accounted for 34 percent of her $77,323 gross salary.

A total of 378 Grand Rapids employees received salary and overtime pay of $80,000 or more in 2017; 83 of these received $100,000 or more. The city of Grand Rapids listed 1,654 jobs (on a full-time equivalency basis) in 2017. Median household income in the city in 2016 was $42,019.

In 2015, the Grand Rapids Press published an article titled, “With salary study in works, here’s what Grand Rapids city workers earn.”

The salary range listed for a Grand Rapids police officer was $43,523-$67,156. However, the union contract has the top of scale salary at $74,296.

That Grand Rapids Press story stated the salary range for the city manager was between $139,957-$178,624. The highest-paid employee in 2017 was now-retired city manager Gregory Sundstrom, who had a $213,155 salary in 2017.

That 2015 story said the pay range for the city clerk was between $93,331-$118,178. City Clerk Darlene O’Neal had a 2017 salary of $140,732.

Interim City Manager Eric Delong didn’t return an email seeking comment.

In April, The New York Times published a story titled: “Public-sector employees are losing their foothold in the middle class.” It alleged that public sector employees have found themselves “financially downgraded.”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is periodically examining municipal employee pay levels in the state of Michigan. The Grand Rapids salary and overtime figures in this story came from a Freedom of Information Act request.

But many public sector salaries in Michigan are available online. is a nonprofit that has posted several years’ worth of salary data for nearly every government worker in Michigan and other states. OpenTheBooks puts in FOIA requests to municipalities all across the country and posts the data online.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.