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City Employee Salary Info Released
Posting Date: 04/16/2012

By Barbara Ellestad

The Mesquite Citizen Journal recently obtained salary and benefit information for the City of Mesquite employees and managers for Calendar Year 2011.

The highest paid employee in the City is Police Chief Troy Tanner whose salary, benefits, and miscellaneous payments total $155,428. He is followed by Kurt Sawyer, who was until last week Interim City Manager for the past eleven months. Sawyer, who received a five percent bump in pay while filling the interim position, made a total of $146,873 in pay and benefits in 2011.

Six of the highest ten paid public employees in Mesquite belong to the Police Department: Tanner, Lieutenant Robert Charles, Detective Mike VanHouten, Clarissa Larsen, Sergeant Scott Taylor, and Sergeant Robert Stepp. While base pay didn't necessarily put them in the top spots, other compensation like overtime pay and retirement contributions paid by the City helped boost their overall standings.

In addition to the Police and Sawyer, the top ten compensated employees include City Attorney Cheryl Hunt, Public Works Director Bill Tanner, and Fire Chief John Higley.

Overall, the City of Mesquite spent a total of $12,228,741 on employee salaries and benefits in Calendar Year 2011. The data compiled by the City reflects employment costs for Calendar Year 2011 rather than information isolated to fiscal years. That makes it difficult to compare it to budgetary data that's developed based on projected costs from July 1 to June 30 of each year. The data supplied also does not include information about employees who left City employment during the year.

After horror stories about abusive practices in managing call back pay, on call pay, and other peripheral salary expenditures by public employees, especially Fire and Rescue, in nearby Nevada localities, it appears that's not happening in Mesquite.

Call-back pay for the

entire Fire Department totaled $8,334 for the calendar year. On-call pay was zero as was shift differential pay. Overtime pay for the Department was $124,261. Holiday pay amounted to $52,692 while Vacation Sell Back was $9,259 and Sick Leave Sell Back came to $3,616.

In all, the City spent $2,287,897 on Fire & Rescue salaries and benefits for the Calendar Year 2011.

That's almost the same amount the City spent on 20 employees in the management category. That group earned a combined total of $2,245,655 for the year in pay and benefits.

Because of changes made to the pay and benefits allotted to elected officials, that group only costs citizens $118,106 for the calendar year. However, the number supplied by the City only includes the currently elected officials. It does not include the pay and benefits given to former Mayor Susan Holecheck and Councilmen Robert 'Bubba' Smith, Randy Ence, and Dave Bennett, all of whom left office in July.

Those four former elected officials had been paid a monthly car allowance of $400 and were earning upwards of $18,000 annually in base pay when they left office.

When the current Mayor, Mark Wier, and Councilmen George Rapson, Kraig Hafen, and Al Litman took office July 1, the car allowance dropped to $200. The pay for Councilmen dropped to $10,000 and the Mayor's pay dropped to $15,000.

Councilmen Geno Withelder and Karl Gustaveson were not affected by the July 1 compensation changes since they were already in office.

Management salary information for calendar year 2011 is available through this link

Fire & Rescue salary information for calendar year 2011 is available through this link

MPD salary information for calendar year 2011 is available through this link.

Information sorted by highest paid to lowest paid is available through this link.

Information sorted by pay group is available through this link.

All salary and benefit information was supplied by the City of Mesquite.


  • Posted Date: 04/16/2012
    After reviewing all of the salaries paid to Mesquite employees, so many seem to be very high. Cops making more than a city attorney. Firefighters making huge salaries. This city is paying way more than it can afford. Just look at them and ask if we can really pay cops over $100K PLUS a year? Time to revamp the city pay structure. It is obscene.
    By: ralphedwards
  • Posted Date: 04/16/2012
    Ralph, police officers and fire fighters are in collective bargaining units so I don't think there is going to be any massive pay cuts going on pertaining to those two classifications specifically. True, their base wage seems high for the size of the town but not particularly out of line for the U.S. average. Plus, those $100,000-plus figures include benefits and overtime so a better figure to look at is their base wage. And, hey, if you ever need them to save your or your loved ones lives, I'm sure it won't matter or you won't care how much money they make. bottom line, they keep us safe ...can we really put a price on that?
    By: Mandy
  • Posted Date: 04/16/2012
    It is now all too clear as to why this town is having financial issues. I can't find a single person listed on the list that is worth 1/3 of what they are being paid.
    By: Joe
  • Posted Date: 04/17/2012
    Mandy, you have a point. But can the city really afford to pay so much? I don't think so. I just feel it needs an independent review by professionals and city voters. All city employee wages seem out of touch with reality. I hope they don't cause the city to go bankrupt .
    By: ralphedwards
  • Posted Date: 04/18/2012
    The cops in this city are the lowest paid cops in the State. They have done so many budget cuts to help the city. ralphedwards and Joe why dont you guys put your life in danger everyday for less than $60,000 a year. Thats how much the cops get paid, everything else is benifits. So if you dont know what your writing about then please dont write it. These officers put their lives on the line everyday to keep YOU safe. This is the safest city to live in Nevada by far. I have lived all over the US, and by far this is the best city to live and to raise a family.
    By: B.
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