PITTSBURGH,None - While the economy seems to be rebounding, it’s been a very difficult and trying time for many. Millions lost their jobs and homes during the economic downturn.
So how have local government workers faired in all of this?
Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle has the list of the top paid government employees. Who is on that list may surprise you.
It’s not the mayor of Pittsburgh or the chief executive of Allegheny County. In fact, they don’t even make the list of the top fifty highest paid in Pittsburgh.
On the city side, the highest paid employee was a paramedic. Crew chief Jerome Wasek earned $185,000.
That caught some taxpayers off guard.
“A paramedic, a paramedic. That’s good. That’s good,” said one taxpayer.
“Maybe we should look into that,” said another taxpayer.
Wasek’s base salary was $60,000. He earned $125,000 in overtime. According to his boss, Pittsburgh Emergency Medical Services Chief Robert McCaughan, some of that overtime came from working private details. McCaughan said that city is reimbursed for that type of work.
Target 11 obtained the list of the city's top 50 earners. It is made up of police officers, firefighters and paramedics, all bringing in more than $100,000.
Many of those police officers and paramedics pick up extra cash by working those private details like Pittsburgh Steelers games. This city is reimbursed by the event organizers.
Firefighters union president Joe King told Target 11 that the reason the overtime is so high is simple: not enough firefighters.
King said every shift requires 163 firefighters on duty, but there are only 152 and that’s before vacations and sick call-ins.
“All the city has to do to minimize that is hire more people. Hire more city residents. Kids that just graduated, give them an opportunity give them a career,” said King.
But King claims the city would rather pay the overtime instead of hire more firefighters and pay for their benefits.
Target 11 also obtained the list of the top salaries in Allegheny County government, where the man at the head of the list is not a very big surprise.
Medical Examiner Dr. Karl Williams pulls in $180,000. He’s followed by District Attorney Stephen Zappala at $156,000.
After reviewing the list supplied by the Controller’s office, Target 11 discovered that 28 of the top 50 names are county police officers.
Their annual salaries range from $70,000 to more than $100,000. But with overtime many of them earn six figures. County police superintendent Charles Moffatt said overtime comes from call-outs to investigate crimes and to attend court hearings.
Digging even deeper, Target 11 found an Allegheny County 911 operator and a nurse at Kane Regional Hospital who nearly tripled their salaries to $90,000 with overtime.
“This is absolutely ludicrous. It's absolutely absurd, and someone is not minding the store,” said county councilman Matt Drozd, who reviewed the list and said he will demand a detailed explanation for overtime from every department head.
“I thought we dealt with this. I thought this was being addressed. Obviously it's not. It's not and you know who pays. The taxpayers pay,” said Drozd.