Payroll Project: Large payouts go to Dayton city execs

Editor’s note: This is one finding of an I-Team analysis of the payrolls of area counties, cities and townships. Pick up Sunday’s paper for the full story, and come back to our website for a searchable database of area government employee salaries.


When two top employees left the city of Dayton last year, they took with them $198,683 in unused sick leave, vacation time and funds set aside every year just to pay departing city executives.

Dayton spokesman Tom Biedenharn alone received $113,339 from the “executive payout” program when he retired last January after nearly 30 years with the city. Departing city law director John Danish walked away with $64,684, making his total pay of $168,029 the city’s highest in 2014.

The executive payout perk is offered only to the city’s top executives. Sixteen currently take part. For each one, the city puts aside an amount equal to 4.6 percent of his or her salary that can be cashed out upon separation.

The city spent $94,532 last year funding the program. The city has administered the program for decades, spending millions of dollars.

City council voted to suspend payments to the program in 2009 in response to questions from the Dayton Daily News.

“As we’ve been going through the 2010 budget process, I have been looking at ways that our executive team can continue to set the tone and direction for the rest of the organization,” then-city manager Tim Riordan said in a 2009 interview. “In reviewing the separation program in response to Dayton Daily News questions, I decided this is one way to accomplish that for 2010.”

But the suspension was only for a year. Then payments started up again.

City Deputy Director of Human Resources Brent McKenzie ($108,457) said executives who take part in the program limit themselves to 20 days of vacation time a year and don’t accrue overtime.

“In light of the fact they get less vacation, they have the incentive program for when they leave,” he said.

City executives can choose not to take part in the program, leaving them with the same leave as other city employees: a max of 30 days of vacation and banked sick leave up to 1,120 hours. When they leave, vacation is paid at the full rate and sick leave at half rate.

All told, the 167 employees who left the city in 2014 received $1.3 million in “fringe benefits” payouts.

Riordan left the city in January after earning $163,478 last year. He chose not to take part in the executive savings plan, though he had a contract that required the city to pay the equivalent of 5 percent of his pay into a deferred compensation program.

The contract with new city manager Warren Price says the same (and puts his salary at $160,000), though he also gets $10,000 in moving expenses to relocate from Stark County and $3,000 a month in living expenses for up to nine months.

Riordan did, however, receive $3,950 from another plan that provides a lump-sum payment of nearly $4,000 at the beginning of every year that can be put toward things such as deferred compensation, a car allowance or health costs.

That program also is only available to city executives.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Politics

Springboro budgets to save $700K on debt payments
Springboro budgets to save $700K on debt payments

The Springboro City Council has passed its 2019 budget and a five-year capital investment plan this month, setting the stage for the city government to save $700,000 in interest payments in coming years, according to staff projections. The city decided to go ahead and pay off long-term debts over the next four years on its water and sewer plants and...
Sen. Brown: Democrats can win Ohio in 2020 if focus is on workers
Sen. Brown: Democrats can win Ohio in 2020 if focus is on workers

Sen. Sherrod Brown said a Democratic presidential candidate can win Ohio in 2020 if he or she focuses on middle-class people who work hard but “never get ahead” and do not “have the kind of retirement security they should.” Although Brown said he has not decided whether he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination, he...
Butler County native named to head EPA
Butler County native named to head EPA

President Donald Trump tapped Andrew Wheeler to be administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an agency the Butler County native has been acting head of since July. Trump unexpectedly announced his decision Friday at a White House ceremony where he was awarding the presidential Medal of Freedom to seven honorees. Citing Wheeler&rsquo...
Ohio congresswoman may challenge Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House
Ohio congresswoman may challenge Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House

Rep. Marcia Fudge, a Cleveland Democrat who led the Congressional Black Caucus from 2012 to 2014, is considering challenging Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House. Fudge, whose spokeswoman said she was unavailable for comment Thursday, told late Wednesday she was considering a run for the top leadership position, and a spokeswoman Thursday...
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown talks about potential presidential run on WHIO Radio
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown talks about potential presidential run on WHIO Radio

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown says his message of fighting for workers resonated in his recent election victory and he told WHIO Radio that’s the message he’d push if he decides to run for president in 2020. Right now he says he’s having family discussions about a potential run, but no decision has been made. “I don’t know what...
More Stories