Nine years ago, women couldn't make the top 40 in Augusta government. The 40 highest-paid jobs were all filled by men.
Today, nine women are in the top 40, and the top wage earners of both genders are taking home significantly fatter paychecks than ever before, according to city payroll records.
In 1999, then-City Administrator Randy Oliver was making $99,640 a year. Today, Administrator Fred Russell's salary is $136,820 and the annual pay of other top-paid city employees also has increased substantially. But, according to data in the 2008 Georgia Department of Community Affairs Local Government Wage and Salary Survey, Augusta's salaries are in line with those in other cities of comparable size.
For example, the annual salary for the city administrator in Columbus-Muscogee County ranges from $114,395 to $177,546, while the average salary for county managers in Augusta's category ranges from $130,695 to $150,678, according to the survey.
Women employees in Augusta government have made strides in narrowing the annual pay disparity gap by 43 percent, to $3,036 from $5,325 nine years ago.
In 1999, an analysis by The Augusta Chronicle of salaries of full-time employees showed the median annual salary for women at $23,568. Today, it is $31,355. The analysis also showed the median pay for men that year was $28,893. Today, it is $34,392.
Augusta has 83 women earning $50,000 or more a year now, compared with 221 men.
Pay for women in the higher-pay categories has probably improved, but women midway on the pay scale and lower might not be doing as well, the city's Equal Opportunity Office director Diana Darris said.
"We know some women have been moved up into higher-ranking offices, and that's positive," she said. "What's happened with these mid- and lower-ranking job categories is what we need to take a hard look at, especially in areas like the fire department where we're doing a huge recruitment initiative for women."
Ms. Darris is still gathering data for the city's first affirmative-action plan, which will focus on women and minorities, a requirement the federal government places on entities with federal contracts, such as Augusta.
The city has a $202 million contract with the Department of Defense to provide water to Fort Gordon. The city's transit department and Augusta Regional Airport also receive federal money.
Consequently, the city is required to have an affirmative-action plan that reflects it is providing equal opportunities, especially for minorities and women.
Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TOP 40 IN AUGUSTA
Hamrick, Gayle B. , Judge, State Court, $142,420.46 now; $98,000.24 in 1999
Booker, Patricia W. , Judge, State Court, $138,820.50 now; $90,000.04 in 1999
Slaby, Richard A. , Judge, State Court, $138,820.50
Watkins, David D. , Judge, State Court, $138,820.50
Russell, Frederick L. , Administrator, $136,359.35
Swint Gary, Director, Library, State Paid, $128,740.56
Johnson, Chiquita T. , General Counsel, $125,000.20
Strength, Ronald H. , Sheriff, $120,071.90
Jennings III, William D. , Judge, Civil Court, $118,594.32
Allen, Henry S., Associate Judge, Civil Court, $116,706.72
Ladson, Abie Leverne , Engineering Director, $115,566.02
Allen, Tameka N., Deputy Administrator, $114,164.73
Williams, Donna B. , Finance Director, $113,300.02
Sherrouse, Dayton L. , Director, Canal Authority, $112,520.45
Jolles, Isaac S. , Probate Judge, $104,999.96
Wheeler III, Chester A. , Housing Director II, $102,433.50
Hicks, Calvin Coolidge , Chief Tax Appraiser, $102,433.50
Willis, Howard L. , Fire Chief, $101,383.33
Johnson, Elaine C. , Clerk of Superior Court, $99,909.68
Jones II, Harold V. , Solicitor General, $96,999.76
Strange, Tammy Rose, Airport Director I, $96,415.80
McAdams, John A. , Assistant Director, Tax Commission, $96,157.10
Greene, Michael D. , Director, Public Services, $95,216.41
Leverett, Robert , Deputy Administrator and RCCI Warden, $94,398.29
Johnson, Mark Brennan , Director, Solid Waste, $91,526.37
Goins, Clifford A. , Director 1, Utilities, $91,507
Hatfield, Sidney E. , Chief Deputy, Sheriff's Office, $90,721.56
Brown, Wayne , Staff Attorney 1, $90,223.12
MacKenzie, Andrew G., Staff Attorney 1, $89,826.28
Jones, Stephanie Karlett , Staff Attorney III, $89,609.78
Stallings Jr., Fred , Tax Commissioner (interim), $88,000.12
Blanchard, Michael F. , Director II, Information Technology, $87,528.48
Beck Jr., Tom F. , Recreation Director, $86,554.44
Powell, Gary A., Colonel, Sheriff's Office, $85,817.92
Johnson, Nancy Jayne , Assistant Solicitor, State Court, $84,734.63
Cassell, Steven J. , Assistant Director, Traffic Engineering, $84,047.92
Fashion, Mashell Yvonne , Assistant Director, Library, State Paid, $82.898.14
Campanaro, Portland Jaye , Chief Assistant Solicitor, $82,064.06
Johnson, W.E. , Major, Sheriff's Office, $81,646.50
Wilhelm, Edward J. , Major, Sheriff's Office, $81,626.07
City of Savannah:
City Manager $183,600
Finance Director $111,482
Public Works Bureau Director $114,583
Water & Sewer Bureau Director $129,067
Recreation Services Director $83,959
City Administrator or Manager $123,190
Finance Director $82,984
Chief Judge of State Court $148,129
Chief Tax Appraiser $71,557
Public Works (or Services) Director $73,346
Utilities Director N/A
Recreation Director $73,346
Sources: Human Resources departments in Savannah and Columbus-Muscogee
WHO'S NO. 1?
State Court Judge Gayle B. Hamrick is the highest paid person in Augusta government making $142,420 a year.
Judges had four of the top five spots on the list.