The salaries of the 2,223 City of Lubbock employees account for nearly 16 percent of their total budget. The city is over $1 billion in debt, so KCBD wanted to know how that payroll is contributing to the city's financial woes.
KCBD requested a list of the top ten highest paid city employees. We found that almost half of them come from the same entity, Lubbock Power and Light.
LP&L CEO Gary Zheng leads the pack, making $251,336.80 a year. Assistant Director of Electric Utilities Dale Stevens, brings in $241,456.49. Along with LP&L's recently hired CFO, Andy Burcham, who is making $195,000. Todd Kimbrough, LP&L's attorney, recently received a $60,000 raise, taking him from $150,000 to $210,000 a year.
We brought the list to Mayor Glen Robertson. He told us that while the council may approve LP&L's budget, it's up to their board to assign the salaries.
"We're upside down in some departments, especially in some departments, and LP&L is a perfect example." Robertson said. "It's not okay with me, but I'm the only council person who questioned their budget."
Add in Zheng's benefit package of more that $59,000 and KCBD found that he takes in about $310,000 a year.
But you may be surprised to hear Zheng is actually underpaid when compared to his counterparts across the state. A recent study done by the American Public Power Association reveals the mean salary for a similar-sized public power company CEO is $320,000 a year.
But given the public's current opinion of LP&L, Robertson says he still thinks Zheng's compensation is excessive.
"When you've got inflated salaries like you do right now, you've got to pay for them some way," Robertson said.
LP&L declined our request for an interview, but did send us this statement:
"LP&L's budgeted full-time salaries for FY 13-14 equals $15,214,219 or 7.24% of the total budget of $210,194,426. This percentage of salaries to total budget had held constant from 5-8% since 2010 even with LP&L increasing the number of electric meters we service. LPL's number of electric meters has increased by over 30, 000 meters or 30% of the total meters in the past four years. LP&L has been able to maintain the percentage of salaries to total budget during the large growth in our system by working hard to run as efficient a utility as possible while still providing reliable electric service to our customers. It will remain the goal of LP&L to work hard every day in order to provide reliable and affordable electricity for the citizens of Lubbock."
Also on the list, City Attorney Sam Medina, raking in $210,000, City Manager James Loomis at $205,000 and Municipal Judge Robert Doty. Doty recently received a nearly 50 percent raise, bringing him to $159,000 dollars a year.
"Stuff like that can only happen with tax dollars, because if you're running your business, you're never going to give a 50 percent raise," Robertson said.
Here is a full list of the top ten highest paid City of Lubbock Employees:
Gary Zheng - LP&L CEO - $251,336.80
Dale Stevens - Asst. Director Electric Utilities - $241,456.49
Sam Medina - City Attorney - $210,000.96
Todd Kimbrough - LP&L General Counsel - $210,000.96
James Loomis - City Manager - $205,000.00
Andy Burcham - LP&L CFO - $195,000
Quincy White - Assistant City Manager - $181,638.03
Robert Doty - Municipal Court Presiding Judge - $159,650
Jeffrey Hartsell - Supervising Attorney - $159.146.04
Rodger Ellis - Police Chief - $153,151.61
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