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December 20, 2010


50 LES employees make six-figure salaries

by Deena Winter

About five years ago, I did a story about the city’s spiraling personnel costs, largely the result of the state-mandated method of determining what public employees’ salaries should be.
I remember a prominent city employee telling me I should have included the salaries of employees at the Lincoln Electric System, the city-owned electric utility. I disagreed, since those salaries aren’t paid out of the city budget.
After years of rate increases, however, (some of them quite substantial), I thought this might be a good time to take a look at them. So I asked LES for a list of all their employees who earn six figures. Without complaint, they obliged, giving me a list of 50 people. That’s out of a total 458 employees (as of last week), or 11 percent of their payroll.
Is that too many? Are they paid too much? LES says people who work in private utilities earn more. LES Spokesman Russ Reno said when these positions open up, they’re filled after regional or national search. LES’s policy for vacancies for most of these positions would be filled from a regional or national process. He also sent me a copy of LES Policy 17 for setting compensation.
I appreciate LES’s openness and transparency; other government agencies are not nearly as willing to hand over public records. The city of Lincoln, for example, sometimes stymies people by taking weeks to respond, charging them for each page they print of a record, and then sometimes charging for attorneys’ time to look at the documents first. I’ve had citizens — average Joe citizens, mind you — tell me they were told it would cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to get the records they want. The Journal Star once paid like $400 for public records from the city.
Anyway, here are the six-figure salaries:

$100,000+ Salaries as of 12/17/2010
Name Job Title Salary
Adams Steven Vice President $144,008
Amancherla Krishna Senior Engineer $100,324
Anderson Thomas Utilities Supervisor I $102,337
Andrysik Richard Utilities Manager I (S) $115,283
Bakenhus Byron Senior Engineer $102,407
Bantam Douglas Chief Operating Officer $195,000
Barnhouse Bruce Utilities Supervisor III $113,079
Brozek David Utilities Supervisor III $117,487
Buhrman Douglas Senior Engineer $108,101
Burbach Alan Senior Engineer $102,979
Case Blane Professional Manager III (S) $100,586
Crist Paul Utilities Manager III $123,639
Curry Douglas Vice President $186,508
Davlin Thomas Utilities Manager II (S) $121,105
Dinges Paul Utilities Supervisor II (S) $104,194
Engelman Neil Senior Engineer $120,000
Fischer James Utilities Manager II (S) $132,490
Florom Dennis Utilities Manager II (S) $117,795
Fortik Jason Utilities Manager II (S) $101,821
Friendt Douglas Utilities Manager II (S) $115,738
Gregg Laurie Utilities Manager II (S) $115,371
Hall J. Todd Vice President $147,732
Hanks Stephen Utilities Supervisor III $102,745
Hans Bradley Utilities Supervisor III $114,283
Haun Steven Utilities Supervisor III $114,740
Hoy Debbra Utilities Manager III $145,630
Kapustka Laura Vice President $192,800
Kratzer Ronald Utilities Manager II (S) $131,687
Lang William IT Analyst Senior $101,990
Mannel James Senior Engineer $119,161
McReynolds Brian Utilities Manager II (S) $127,535
Merrill Bruce Vice President $142,000
Miller Douglas Utilities Supervisor III $105,237
Noble William Utilities Manager III $123,231
Pietzyk Bruce Utilities Supervisor II $107,917
Pudenz Danny Vice President $165,955
Rittgarn Kenneth Utilities Supervisor II (S) $107,074
Sahling-Zart Shelley Vice President $154,217
Schmidt Robert Utilities Supervisor III $113,862
Shkolnick Marc Utilities Manager I (S) $103,729
Skipton David Utilities Manager I (S) $105,326
Steinauer Steven Utilities Manager III $102,043
Streit Lawrence Utilities Supervisor III $120,157
Turek Emil Utilities Manager II (S) $132,048
Wailes Kevin Administrator & CEO $270,000
Wallingford Steven Senior Engineer $107,512
Wertz Dennis Internal Auditor Senior $100,968
Wesolowski Dan Senior Engineer $103,494
Young Stephen Utilities Supervisor II (S) $104,075

Read more from City Hall, Lincoln news
5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Senator Joseph McCarthy
    Dec 20 2010

    Deena, so what you’re saying is that governmnet ran public power is able to provide it’s workers a very reasonalbe compensation while providing it’s customers rate costs within the bottom 2% in the country. This is very dangerous un-american propoganda you are spreading.

  2. Gene
    Dec 20 2010

    What is the point of listing their names here?

  3. Roger Yant
    Dec 20 2010

    WOW, not bad work if you can get it. I noticed one thing that was real obvious to me. Only 5 women in the group of 50. Where do I apply? Its’ not un-American Deena. We pay their salaries. We have no choice to buy our electric anywhere else. I do agree the rates are fantastic compared to the rest of the country. What is the normal rate of a large business for % over $100,000? Is 11% normal?

    • ej
      Dec 21 2010

      Roger, it is work you could get, if you had the proper training. Five women out of 50 — probably not that unusual for the type of work; lots of engineers on the list, probably been on the job for quite a few years; I’ll bet that was about the female:male ratio in the engineering colleges back when they were in school. You can apply at LES, Roger. What is the normal percentage of employees of a large business earning over $100,000? Totally depends on the type of business.

  4. Fletch
    Dec 21 2010

    I figure some of these employees have been long termers. Engineers are not dime a dozen employees. If someone came in at a high salary – like $60 or 70K and got a modest annual increase, it’s easy to see why you’d have a few $100K people. The only folks that seem to get up in arms about folks making $100K are the ones that don’t make $100K. Instead of being bitter and jealous, go get an advanced degree or work hard and bring value to an organization. You can do it, too.


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