December 5, 2023

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

2020 payroll for city, county staff in Douglas, Shawnee counties

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The 2020 payroll listings posted to for Topeka, Lawrence, Shawnee County, and Douglas County show some unusual compensation increases for some of the highest-paid employees.  Shawnee County officials didn’t respond to the Sentinel’s request for comment, but the other entities did, and their explanations are included below.

There were 27 pay periods last year compared to the normal 26 pay periods the year before, which is factored out in the column headed ‘Net Change 26 Pays’ in the tables below.

Six of the highest-paid Shawnee County employees had double-digit increases, including Undersheriff Gerald Simecka (15.5%), Deputy District Attorney Brett Watson (21.7%), LHD Director Linda Ochs (33.2%), Corrections Specialist Ronald Lotridge (66.4%), Sheriff Brian Hill (43.7%), and Corrections Specialist Matthew Morrison (18%).

Topeka City Manager Brent Trout said, “periods some of the people listed below retired in 2020 and received a pay out (sic) of vacation and other pays in 2020 that caused their change in salary to be significant from 2019.”  He didn’t provide any names, however, to indicate which of the employees listed in the table below received any extra payouts.

Lori Carnahan, Human Resources Director for the City of Lawrence, said some employees received increases resulting from the city’s new pay plan.  Carnahan says those employees include Police Chief Gregory Burns (+36.8%) IT Director James Wisdom (+30.9%), City Attorney Toni Wheeler (+6.3%), and Assistant City Manager Casey Toomay (+6.2%).

Three of the employees listed below collected payout of vacation and sick pay upon retirement; Gregory Burns, James Wisdom, and Douglas Green.

Carnahan attributed other increases to “A general wage adjustment, possible promotions, overtime due to minimum staffing requirements during COVID19 and reclassification of Fire Captain to non-exempt.”

In Douglas County, County Administrator Sarah Plinsky attributed her increase to being promoted to County Administrator in August 2019.  Plinsky also says Chad Voight was promoted to Director of Public Works, Randy Roberts was appointed to serve as Sheriff for an unexpired term in 2020, and Steven Bucholz was promoted to interim Undersheriff.

Pinsky said Kevin Kelly’s salary is set by the independent Board of Directors for the Peaslee Technical School.

All 2020 payroll information was obtained by the Sentinel’s parent company, Kansas Policy Institute, in Open Records requests.

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