News Story

Fewer Workers At This Michigan City Collected More During Pandemic

New series on how government workers have fared covers Jackson this time

In November 2020, a group that lobbies for city and township governments said there was a “dire fiscal situation facing communities across the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Michigan Municipal League said cities face decreased tax revenues and increased expenses.

“No one could have foreseen the COVID-19 pandemic or planned for the scale of its impact across every sector of society. Local governments are on the front lines of this crisis,” said Westland Mayor Bill Wild, president of the Michigan Municipal League’s board of trustees, in a press release.

Nearly a million Michigan residents lost their jobs due to state lockdowns in 2020. The losses were not evenly distributed.

Michigan Capitol Confidential will be reporting on the compensation patterns of municipal employees across the state in 2020.

The first city examined is Jackson.

The number of Jackson city employees who were paid six-figure amounts almost tripled in 2020, a year when the state shut down many businesses due to COVID-19.

There were 32 Jackson city employees whose gross salaries exceeded $100,000 in 2020. In 2019, the comparable number was 11.

The sum of the salaries for all city employees (including part-timers) increased by just $59,755. But there was a 12.5% reduction in the number of city employees from 2019 to 2020; there were 617 full and part-time employees in 2019, and in 2020, only 540.

According to the U.S. Census, the median household income in Jackson is $35,464, and 28.7% of city residents are considered to be in poverty.

The salary information for Jackson employees was released by the city in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. It includes gross salaries, which can include overtime or other forms of extra pay.

The highest paid employee was City Manager Jonathan Greene, who made $174,492 in 2020. Greene made less than the previous city manager, Patrick Burtch, who was the highest paid employee in 2019, with a gross income of $212,714.

Jennifer Morris, the city’s director of Neighborhood and Economic Operations, was the second-highest paid employee, at $145,985. Her pay increased by 6.4% in 2020. City Attorney Matthew Hagerty was third-highest paid, at $145,969.

Police Director Elmer Hitt was the highest paid employee in public safety, with a $144,255 salary, a 8% pay increase over 2019. Fire Deputy Director David Wooden made $130,363 in 2020.

The fire department saw some of the largest raises in gross pay in 2020 among city workers.

Fire Motor Driver Chad Everett had his pay increase from $91,234 in 2019 to $123,167 in 2020, a 35% increase.

Fire Captain Todd Weaver saw his pay increase from $96,279 in 2019 to $128,470 in 2020, a 33% increase.

Fire Motor Driver Joel Skrypec’s gross pay increased from $88,141 in 2019 to $114,146 in 2020. That was a 30% increase.

Firefighter Frank Huntley’s gross pay increased from $82,515 in 2019 to $100,664 in 2020, a 22% increase.

Top Paid City of Jackson Employees In Terms of Gross Wages For 2020

Jonathan Greene, city manager, $174,492

Jennifer Morris, director of Neighborhood and Economic Operations, $145,985

Matthew Hagerty, city attorney, $145,969

Elmer Hitt, police director, $144,255

Jon Dowling, city engineer, $134,499

David Wooden, fire deputy director, $130,363

Kelli Hoover, director of Parks, Recreation and Grounds, $129,753

Todd Weaver, fire captain, $128,470

Patrick Burtch, city manager, $126,452

Robert Walkowicz, fire captain, $126,285

Chad Everett, fire motor driver, $123,167

Timothy Hibbard, police sergeant, $121,817

Timothy Gonzales, fire motor driver, $119,337

Jason Senft, fire captain, $119,066

Joe William Smith, fire motor driver, $117,053

Craig Reppert, fire motor driver, $116,078

Joel Skrypec, fire motor driver, $114,146

Heather Ehnis, assistant finance director, $113,993

Philip Hones, finance director, $111,111

Shane LaPorte, assistant city manager, $108,262

Jason Ganzhorn, police sergeant, $107,187

Peter Postma, police sergeant, $105,909

Richard Terrell, fire motor driver, $104,574

Jason Yoakam, city assessor, $104,246

Troy White, assistant city engineer, $103,572

Wesley Stanton, police sergeant, $103,371

Brian Taylor, building inspector, $102,044

Christopher Ermatinger, assistant fire chief, $102,034

Martin Griffin, city treasurer, $101,589

Adam Williams, police lieutenant, $101,356

Sergio Garcia, police lieutenant, $101,074

Frank Huntley, firefighter, $100,664

Source: City of Jackson

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.