Editor's note: This is the first in a series of articles about the salary and compensation of local public employees and elected officials. All compensation information was obtained through public records and open records request with each government agency.
The City of Hopkinsville has 260 employees, and payroll is approximately 38% of the city’s $37 million budget, according to the 2018-2019 fiscal year budget, which ended June 30.
Knowing that tax dollars compensate the city’s employees and elected officials, it’s only right to know what their jobs entail and how each role helps the city function.
First up, the highest paid Hopkinsville position is the city administrative officer with annual compensation at $95,399, according to public records from the city’s finance department.
City Administrator Troy Body, who was hired in May 2018, “advises the mayor and city council in the formulation of administrative and legislative policies; directs all city departments and employees in executing established policy and legislation; has major responsibility for the preparation and administration of the city budget; and oversees day-to-day municipal operations including supervising, coordinating, and evaluating department activities and functions,” according to the city’s website.
In layman's terms, Body is tasked with managing all the department heads for the city.
"He works closely with the mayor and implements all of the mayor's visions and goals," said Chief Financial Officer Robert Martin. "Then, the CAO works with all the department heads to make sure we are carrying out the vision with the resources that are available."
It is Martin’s job to help the city manage its resources. His salary falls close behind the CAO at $93,943.
Martin, who has worked with the city since 2003, and his team of 10 are tasked with managing public resources and finance information for the city’s policy makers to make informed fiscal decisions.
Martin explained that his salary and all city employee salaries are determined using a pay scale matrix that is approved by Hopkinsville City Council with each annual budget.
“It lists every grade and the steps of each position,” he said.
The pay grade sets the annual compensation range for each city position. Step increases, or individual employee pay raises, are determined by years of service and job experience.
The pay grade of each position, Grade 1 through 24, is voted on by the city council, and the grade level is set based on the duties of the position and how essential it is to the city’s function.
"All jobs are important," Martin said. "It's just the highest grade is 24 and that is the city administrative officer; he’s the only one in that category."
Rounding out the top 5 highest paid city employees are the fire chief at $91,397, both the police chief and public works director at $87,111, and information technology director at $87,110. All four positions are in grade 20 on the city’s pay scale matrix.
Positions in grade 20 can make a minimum of $66,371 and a maximum of $91,397, based on step increases in the pay scale matrix.
According to the matrix, Fire Chief Freddie Montgomery, who is retiring at the end of the month to take the same position in Clarksville, maxed out on compensation in Hopkinsville, meaning he reached the highest step of pay within his pay grade.
Martin noted that the pay grade for a specific job cannot be moved to a higher grade unless voted on by the council.
A new fire chief has not yet been named; however the position administers the overall operational functions of the Hopkinsville Fire Department and Hopkinsville/Christian County Emergency Ambulance Service.
Police Chief Clayton Sumner is tasked with leading a team of nearly 70 officers and overseeing the administrative functions of the department. Sumner has been chief since 2015.
Public Works Director Mike Perry manages an umbrella of employees who maintain streets and right-of-ways, city parks, facilities and cemeteries; plus recreational opportunities and a fleet of city vehicles and equipment. Perry has been with the city since September 2004.
IT director Joseph Grace rounds out the top five highest-paid city of Hopkinsville employees. Grace, who has been with the city since 2005, works with each department in facilitating technology needs while monitoring security, cost-effectiveness, reliability, standardization, and human interaction, according to the city's website.
Due to Kentucky being an at-will state, no one’s job is guaranteed, Martin noted.
“A new mayor could come in and decide he wants a whole new administrative staff, he can,” Martin said. “I’ve been with the city for 16 years, but every time a new mayor comes in, there’s that possibility.”
Although not the highest paid, the mayor and 12 city council members are at the helm of legislative duties for the city of Hopkinsville.
Mayor Carter Hendricks makes $74,468 and city council members — Dr. Darvin A. Adams I, Kimberly McCarley, Don Ahart, Paul Henson, Amy Craig, Wendell Lynch, Terry Parker, Tom Johnson, Patricia Bell, Jimmy Dossett, Jason Bell and Phillip Brooks — each make $11,769 annually.
The maximum allowable annual compensation of Kentucky mayors is set by the Department for Local Government according to Kentucky Revised Statute 83A.075(1), and Martin noted that compensation is based on each city's class size.
“It is increased every year based on an inflation rate that is given to us by the state,” Martin said of the mayor’s salary.
Like the mayor, city employees can receive an annual cost-of-living allowance increase; however, this fiscal year 2019-2020, the council voted to freeze COLAs due to increasing state pension payments.
Martin said one concern the city has going forward is how pension payments will affect employee compensation and how that plays a role in retaining qualified employees.
"Pension is paid out of the general fund also," Martin said. "So the more pension we have to pay, the less money we have to operate and pay employees with."
Reach Zirconia Alleyne at 270-887-3243 or email@example.com.
Top 5 highest-paid city positions
Chief administrative officer - $95,399
Chief financial officer - $93,943
Fire chief - $91,397
Police chief and public works director - $87,111
Information technology director - $87,110
More info box
To see the pay rate for every City of Hopkinsville position, visit this story at kentuckynewera.com.