The comparison of salaries across city and county lines was recently a hot topic when both employees from the Aiken County Sheriff's Office and the Aiken Department of Public Safety fought for and received raises to their paycheck within the year.
County Administrator $138, 811
County Attorney $112,190
Assistant Administrator $100,032
Director Information Technology $96,640
County Engineer $95,334
Assistant Administrator-Admin $95,027
Director Finance $89,306
Probate Judge $88,667
City of Aiken
City clerk/Exec Secretary $106,100.80
Director of Planning $103,480
Finance Director $99,257.60
Public Safety Officer V (Cpt.) $88,025.60
Director of Public Safety $88,004.80
Records Manager Supervisor $88,004.80
Assistant City Manager $83,262.40
Information Technology Manager $82,680
Engineering and Utilities Dir. $79,372.80
Zoning Official $78,520
City of North Augusta
City Administrator $115,360
Dir. of Finance/Support Services $109,405
Dir. of Engineering/Public Works $101,096
Director of Public Safety $98,756
Director of Public Services $90,606
Dir. of Parks, Recreation & Leisure Services $80,397
Interim Dir. of Planning/Economic Development $79,853
Manager of Information Services $78,951
Super. of Streets & Drains/Stormwater Mgt. $77,245
Super. of Water Production $76,938
The initial salaries for officers came into question based on what North Augusta, other law enforcement agencies throughout South Carolina and parts of Georgia made. Those police departments' starting salaries for officers were higher than what the Aiken County Sheriff's office and Aiken Public Safety paid. Officials with both Aiken police agencies expressed a need to raise those salaries to retain good officers.
The Aiken Standard recently filed Freedom of Information Act requests to receive the salaries of all government employees making $50,000 or more, as well as the salaries of all government officials, in the City, County, and North Augusta.
Here's a breakdown of the top salaries currently paid in all three.
The highest paid County employee is County Administrator Clay Killian at $138,811.67.
Wendell Brown, the County's attorney, ranks second highest at $112,190, with the Master-in-Equity Maurice Griffith ranking third highest at $109,524.34.
Killian has two assistants – Andy Merriman and Brian Sanders. Both not only assist Killian, but also oversee some County departments.
Merriman's salary ranks fourth at $100,032, and Sanders ranks eighth highest at $95,027.84.
The salaries for County Treasurer Jason Goings and County Auditor Charles Barton are shown as only the County portion. These two positions receive a state supplement, as well, to their salary that is directly paid to them by the state. Goings receives about $62,628.83 from the County and Barton receives about $59,415,07.
According to Killian, both receive roughly $20,000 per state supplement.
Other elected officials include Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt, who makes roughly $95,903.
County Coroner Tim Carlton makes $67,844, Register Mesne Conveyance Judith Warner makes $67,844, and also receives a small state supplement at about $1,500 per year. Warner's position is to maintain records of land titles, tax liens and other documents related to property transactions.
For County Council, County Chairman Ronnie Young makes $16,800, and all other Council members make $13,440.
In total, Aiken County has 24 employees who make more than $75,000, compared to the City of Aiken, who has 15 employees above $75,000 and North Augusta, which has 10.
City of Aiken
The highest paid employee in the City of Aiken's database is City Clerk/Executive Secretary Sara Ridout at $106,100.80.
Ridout has worked with the City for more than 50 years, and is in charge of records, ordinances, deeds and resolutions. She also helps put together Council agendas for their regular public hearings and acts as head secretary.
Ed Evans, who recently retired with the City as planning director, made $103,480. Finance Director Kim Abney ranks third in the highest-paid City salary at $99,257.60.
Two members of the Aiken Department of Public Safety make more than $80,000 – Capt. Ron Shelley at $88,025.60 and Police Chief Charles Barranco at $88,004.80.
Director of Utilities and Engineering George Grinton, makes $79,372.80, and Director of Public Services Tim Coakley makes $71,760.
Interim City Manager Roger LeDuc, who replaced former City Manager Richard Pearce after he resigned from his position in June, currently makes $67,600. Pearce's starting salary was $120,016 and his ending salary was $135,012.
LeDuc may receive additional money if Council decides to hire him back on past his contractual expiration date come December.
The assistant to the city manager, Stuart Bedenbaugh, makes $83,262.40.
Regarding City Council members, Aiken Mayor Fred Cavanaugh makes $15,017.60 annually, and Aiken City Councilman Steve Homoki, who currently acts as mayor pro tem, is paid $12,001.60.
All other Council members are paid $9,006.40.
North Augusta City Administrator Todd Glover is the North Augusta's highest paid employee at $115,360.
The Director of Finance and Support Services, John Potter, comes in below Glover at $109,405; Director of Engineering and Public Works Tom Zeaser at $101,096; Director of Public Safety John Thomas at $98,756; and Director of Public Services James Sutton at $90,606.
The City's other directors include Director of Parks, Recreation and Leisure Services Rick Meyer at $80,397 and interim Director of Planning and Economic Develop Scott Sterling at $79,853.
As far as City Council members, Mayor Lark Jones' annual salary is $12,297 as an elected official, and all other members of North Augusta's City Council are paid $6,149.
Maayan Schechter is the local government reporter with Aiken Standard. Follow her on Twitter @MaayanSchechter.