City, county employees earn big money in 2012

Sandusky law director Don Icsman and Erie County health commissioner Pete Schade led the pack in 2012 earnings among local public employees, according to a Register analysis of salary databases obtained through public records requests.
Andy Ouriel
Feb 11, 2013

From elected officials to police officers, the analysis evaluated the gross wages of about 1,100 people employed by Erie County and Sandusky. Gross wages account for all payments the employees received, including overtime, vacation and retirement payouts. In total, Erie County and Sandusky taxpayers fronted about $43 million for salaries in 2012, paying the average county or city worker about $39,000 a year.   

Earning close to $134,000 a year, Icsman is the top-paid employee in both Sandusky and Erie County. He primarily provides legal counsel to the seven city commissioners. 
The second highest-paid employee in Sandusky, city manager Nicole Ard, also supervises city operations. Hired in October 2011, Ard earned about $125,500 in 2012.
Pete Schade’s healthy salary — the highest among about 900 Erie County employees — has skyrocketed almost 38 percent in the past seven years.
At the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties executive director Kirk Halliday and his No. 2 employee, Beth Williams round out the list of the Top 5 earners in the study, respectively holding the No. 4 and No. 5 spots.     
Read more about top-paid government employees and what they do to earn their salaries in today's Register or e-paper.



The Bizness

Don't you think that the people on this list that don't make a lot of money could be kind of embarrassed when friends see their salary? Just kind of my thought if I made <40k and was on that list.


Maybe tax free under the table payments help?


Combine fire services. Huge savings to be had there. Less laying around the station and washing the trucks.

My Opinion is...

Try comparing Icsman's salary with any of the County Attorneys and see how they compare to get an idea of public sector attorney rates. Attorneys in the Private Sector can charge $150/hour, but usually they bill in 6 minute increments and their office overhead needs to be considered when they set their rates. It's even better when private sector attorneys do legal work and then their clients don't pay. I don't think Icsman needs to worry about the department overhead coming out of his salary, or unpaid legal bills affecting his bottom line.

Truth or Fiction

Just read these comments and it shows the intent of the article. If you are public employee, you are in the cross-hairs of the paper.

I would ask that when the paper makes a comparison they give the background. For example, if a city solicitor in Vermilion makes $26k is it a part-time job, a contracted job, or simply a retainer job from a local law firm.

Finally, an associate, not a partner, with 5+ years of experience in a large Ohio Law firm can be expected to receive payables at $250 per hour. At $134K divided by 2080 hours in a year, Mr. Icsman's billable hours to the City stands at approximately $64 per hour. That's only 26% of what you would pay an attorney 5-years out of law school.

The villian is not the employees with their pictures replacing Ben Franklin. I will leave it up to you to decide who is!


@T or F, agree with you 100%. The story as published by the SR seems to be an attempt to get residents "riled up" about salaries of the highest-paid local public officials. As I wrote in an earlier response to this article, this story is not fair and certainly not in-depth reporting. I would like to ask the reporter why they chose to report the salaries, and more specifically, what their intent was in replacing Ben Franklin's picture on a $100 bill.

A more balanced and in-depth reporting of Mr. Icsman's salary would've included not only what his peers in neighboring cities are paid, but also what the city is getting in the way of deliverables from Mr. Icsman.

I hope the SR, in future reporting, puts more than 10 minutes into gathering up a story before they publish it.


"Earning close to $134,000 a year, Icsman is the top-paid employee in both Sandusky and Erie County. He primarily provides legal counsel to the seven city commissioners."

Iscman primarily provides legal counsel to the seven city commissioners? How much does the Erie County prosecutor make to provide counsel to the entire county officials?


These figures are over/under estimated.


It doesn't appear these are estimates at all but exact figures from the source given. These appear to have been taken from the files of the city and county. They can be taken because they are public record. Any public figure, including those who work for any public agency, I believe, can have their financial income given to any source for public examination by anyone. That goes with the territory. If you don't want your income examined, don't work for the public.

So what you see, is what they get. As for what some of them get: I wish I had it. Not bad for "all in a day or year's worth". I don't do their jobs so I can't say what they are worth or would I pay them that.

It just seems somewhat high given the results of late that we the people have expected to be getting here in Sandusky such as with the police committee.

I would think that given Icsman's temporary raise while doing both jobs, he should not have expected to hang on to any big raise like $40 grand this time around given the economy. Come on now. None of us got that big a raise and frankly, the screw up with that committee should have told him he didn't deserve that big a raise. Maybe $10,000 but not $40,000.

If he thinks he can get more out in the real world, by all means, go for it. We will begin looking for someone else immediately to replace him at a lesser rate tomorrow. That is his decision. You can't have everything. But he knows he can't make as much out there as he does in here right off the bat either. So I don't think giving up this kind of money is realistic either. So don't sweat the small stuff.

As for Ms Ard, she shouldn't have gotten a raise either. Not until we see some forward movement in Sandusky. She needs to work with those commissioners and get this town moving. Where are the factories, the businesses we need? That is what I want to see! When that becomes a reality then she can get a raise. until then, her salary should remain flat.

Those are just my opinions. And NONE of the commissioners deserve raises. Some of them don't deserve to remain on council either. They should go right now for what some of them have done. None of the big shots on some of the departments either. Some of them need to go as well. This isn't a charity ward. It's business. Stop stealing from the taxpayers. Until you do your jobs you don't deserve your salaries let alone raises. You are lucky is am not your boss, very lucky.


Glad to see this. Inflame? Hardly. Most knew what Delphi employees made. Or Ford workers. Why is any one else different?


Is that really what he looks like? (Mr. Icsman)

Pastor Ron

As a legal scholar Icsman must know that the increase in pay he got when he was the temporary City Manager went away when the new City Manager was in place. Pretty sure he is liable for repayment of the money that he was overpaid. How does he justify getting paid for being the City Manager when somebody else was paid to do the job? If he doesn't realize how bad this looks... maybe we do need a new Law Director!

Rod Farva

Post a list of people on welfare too. They get paid by taxpayers too