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Who’s the highest-paid Pierce County government employee?

Post by David Wickert on April 23, 2010 at 8:00 am with 12 Comments »
April 23, 2010 10:30 am

Who is Pierce County government’s highest paid employee?

The answer: Dr. Miguel Balderrama, medical director at the Pierce County Jail. He grossed $186,455 in 2009, according to pay data obtained by The News Tribune and posted on our SoundInfo web page.

Balderrama was one of 371 Pierce County employees who earned six-figure salaries last year, a News Tribune analysis found. That’s a 70 percent increase from 2008, when 218 county employees earned at least $100,000. In 2007 187 employees earned six-figure pay.

Why the big increase? Overtime at the short-staffed county jail is a factor. So are inflation-driven cost-of-living raises for all employees – including a 5.2 percent raise last year. Throw in an extra paycheck last year because of a quirk in the calendar, and you’ve got a big jump in the number of employees earning at least $100,000.

Look for a full report in Sunday’s News Tribune. In the meantime, you can view the 2009 pay for some 3,700 county employees here. Below is a list of the top earners in the county last year.


Pierce County's top-paid employees in 2009
Employee Job Title Department Total gross pay
Miguel Balderrama Physician/Medical Dir Sheriff $186,455
Jacquelyn Morhaime Forensic Pathologist Medical Ex $176,019
Brian Ziegler Dir-Pw & Utilities Pub Wks/Trn $174,294
Patrice Mccarthy Executive Executive $172,572
Patrick Kenney Dir-Budget & Finance Budget $170,827
Mark Lindquist Prosecuting Attorney Prosecutor $170,245
George Walk Dir-Government Relations Govt Reltns $151,536
Franklin Dacca Judge-District Court Dist Ct $146,740
James Heller Judge-District Court Dist Ct $146,740
Judy Jasprica Judge-District Court Dist Ct $146,740
David Kenworthy Judge-District Court Dist Ct $146,740
Jack Nevin Judge-District Court Dist Ct $146,740
Patrick Omalley Judge-District Court Dist Ct $146,740
Karla Roehm-Buttorff Judge-District Court Dist Ct $146,740
Margaret Ross Judge-District Court Dist Ct $146,740

Leave a comment Comments → 12
  1. wa_govwatch says:

    Lakewood’s Andrew Neiditz’ dues to the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) for 2009 amounted to $1,345.75 alone – paid by Lakewood taxpayers, of course. This figure represented .008 of his $168,218.00 yearly salary.

  2. A 70% increase??????????No wonder the people of peierce Co are broke. I say Hire more for more money. Lets make the county 100% broke.

  3. How much are we paying for benefits?

  4. truthwillout says:

    How can any state or local government employee make more than the Governor?

  5. Clarktribnet says:

    Goes right along with the states highest paid employee.. I think it’s the UW coach. it’s just the economics of the pay scale. I didn’t really see any salaries way out of line on the above list.

  6. I am dissappointed it wasn’t a deputy or jailer. Dammit.

  7. I look forward to reading David’s complete article. In the meantime, I did a little armchair number-crunching and came up with this breakdown of the 371 employees that David refers to:

    113 – Attorneys (mostly deputy prosecutors, plus 8 judges and 6 commissioners)
    112 – Sheriff’s Dept, mostly people who worked a lot of overtime
    55 – Information Technology (software engineers, etc)
    42 – Public Works engineers and managers
    49 – Senior managers in the rest of the organization, which employs some 3,100 employees

    Hunter George
    Pierce County Communications

  8. Director of Gov’t Relations = $151,500? Good work if you can get it.

  9. TacomaTaxpayer98409 says:

    For the person who asked about benefits.

    You could use 25% to 28% for employer paid taxes and benefits of their gross pay. That’s the figure I used when I did payroll for a couple major companies.

    And of course in Tacoma, the workers have a pension plan they pay 7% into *approx* and the taxpayers contribute 8% to it. Isn’t it nice to know the taxpayers have to pay more to a city workers pension plan than the worker themselves?

    That info came from an article in TNT when Billy Bumble Baarsma was still in power. They decided the taxpayers had to pay more into the plan to help keep it solvent. Why don’t the employees pay more themselves?

    Oh yeah, TNT should do an article on the SAP computer system that the city bought and remember all the problems they had when they got it and had to hire more people? Are we seeing any savings from using SAP?

  10. dbreneman says:

    Extra paycheck? What kind of “quirk in the calendar” results in a year with more than 52 weeks?

  11. teresa5291 says:

    Check out the teacher’s salaries…what the *&^% are they complaining about?????? I hate it when they strike; makes no sense. Where else can one make 70, 80 or over 90 thousand a year for working 9 mths out of the year????

  12. Based on the article, it’s hard to believe that 6 out of 7 full-time County employees make over $50,000 a year…….I believe that our private enterprise sector, income producing businesses have a much lower percentage of employees earning more than $50,000…..
    I guess the reason is that business has to pay taxes and compete with government for employees. Doesn’t seem like a level playing field. I believe wages/benefits need to be reduced, unions are passe’ and we need fewer government employees. Perhaps, then we might be able to balance our County budget…….

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