breaking news

2-year-old boy taken to hospital after near-drowning at Island MetroPark

I-Team Payroll Project: With multiple paychecks, coroner makes $317K


Editor’s note: The Dayton Daily News I-Team is gathering payroll data for local governments across our region, as well as state government and higher education, as part of our Payroll Project. You can search Payroll Project data here. We are gathering payroll data for 2017 and will add it to the database as it is collected. If you have a suggestion for our Payroll Project, email I-Team reporter this reporter at Josh.Sweigart@coxinc.com.

Dr. Russell Uptegrove is among the top 10 highest-paid employees in both Montgomery and Warren counties, according to the Dayton Daily News I-Team Payroll Project.

The Payroll Project is a searchable database of state and local government employee salaries available on this newspaper’s website.

Uptegrove was paid $127,531 last year as the county coroner in Warren County and $175,290 as a full-time forensic pathologist in Montgomery County.

Uptegrove was also paid $14,800 last year and $26,700 in 2016 by Butler County under contract for the same type of work there; and he was paid $998 in 2016 by the state of Ohio to teach classes at the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy.

State law says he should be paid less by Warren County if he has a private practice on the side, but he says that doesn’t apply to him because all of his work is for public entities.

This puts his total taxpayer-paid compensation at $317,621 last year, making him the highest-paid local government employee in the region.

RELATED: Montgomery County’s highest paid employees in 2017

“I’m a hard working son of a bitch. That’s how it happens,” Uptegrove said when asked how he is able to perform multiple jobs. “I don’t play golf. I don’t have a lot of other time-consuming hobbies.”

He said he uses vacation time from Montgomery County for many of the hours he works elsewhere. He can stop by his office in Warren County on his way home from work in Montgomery County to do paperwork. Autopsies from Warren County are brought to Montgomery County under contract, where he either performs them or oversees them.

For Butler County, he performs autopsies on a contract basis. He performed 19 autopsies last year for $700 each, one homicide autopsy for $750 and five complete body inspections for $750 each.

“Most of the people who are coroners in Ohio have two jobs. I’m a little different because my other job happens to be a county government job, where other people are surgeons or anesthesiologists or OB/GYNs or working in an emergency room or pediatrician or whatever, so I’m different because of what my other job is.”

RELATED: Taxpayers on hook for $444M in unused state worker leave

The state law that sets coroners’ salaries puts them in two categories. Those who “engage in the private practice of medicine” are paid a lower rate than those who don’t have their own practice.

Uptegrove said he doesn’t have a private practice because all of his work is for public agencies. He said he was told by the Warren County prosecutor’s office that his pay was proper. Prosecutor David Fornshell would neither confirm nor deny this, citing attorney-client privilege.

MORE FROM THE I-TEAM: Coming Sunday: I-Team investigates sex offenders on college campuses

The Ohio Attorney General issued an opinion in 2012 that a county coroner working as a supervising physician in a hospital emergency room is considered to be engaged in the “private practice of medicine” so should be paid at the lower rate.

Other than that decision, state officials say the law is vague on what constitutes a “private practice” and it’s never been decided if working additional public-sector jobs would impact how coroners are paid. County prosecutors and engineers have similar provisions changing their pay if they have another job.

Greg Lawson, policy director for the conservative Buckeye Institute, said the law on county official pay should be re-examined. If the intent is to pay officials less if they have a second job, then that should apply regardless of whether it’s a public or private sector job, he said.

“It should be consistent one way or the other,” he said.

WARREN COUNTY’S HIGHEST PAID EMPLOYEES IN 2017 WERE:

1. Scott Swope, Warren County Health District medical director: $211,055

2. James Lawyer, mental health administrator: $133,621

3. Megan Manuel, Developmental Disability superintendent: $130,259

4. Russell Uptegrove, county coroner: $127,531

5. David Fornshell, county prosecutor: $127,428



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Miamisburg HS uses national pastime to honor America’s heroes
Miamisburg HS uses national pastime to honor America’s heroes

At Miamisburg High School, the national pastime also is an opportunity to honor America’s heroes. The varsity baseball team on Saturday held its annual Veteran Appreciation Game, this time when they played Bellbrook High School. Both teams started by shaking the hands of veterans across different generations, followed by a 21-gun, salute, then...
2-year-old boy taken to hospital after near-drowning at Island MetroPark
2-year-old boy taken to hospital after near-drowning at Island MetroPark

A 2-year-old boy was taken to Dayton Children's Hospital after he fell in to the Great Miami River at Island MetroPark Saturday afternoon.  The child fell in to the water near the Helena Street bridge park area.  Montgomery County Regional Dispatch confirmed he was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.  Tabatha Davis...
Students, parents, staff urge Talawanda to add more police in schools
Students, parents, staff urge Talawanda to add more police in schools

School safety was a recurring theme at the most recent Talawanda Board of Education meeting, with staff, students and parents sharing their concerns. The meeting opened with the topic being raised twice in the public participation part of the agenda. Both included calls for the hiring of more school resource officers, suggesting one be assigned to...
Hamilton boy’s selfless wish makes playground more inclusive for kids
Hamilton boy’s selfless wish makes playground more inclusive for kids

A large crowd turned out Saturday to watch Grayson Combs celebrate his birthday wish at Millikin Woods Park in Hamilton — a wheelchair accessible playground equipment that enables all children to have fun. Combs and his family cut the ribbon to open the inclusion wheel, which is a merry-go-round that can spin disabled children in wheelchairs...
Dayton says new efforts stemming crime in neighborhood where women’s bodies found
Dayton says new efforts stemming crime in neighborhood where women’s bodies found

Dayton police say stepped-up patrols have led to fewer gun crimes and more drug and prostitution arrests in the North Main Street corridor where residents have long complained of rampant crime and where several women have been found dead in yards and alleys since June. Dayton police on Friday announced that on Dec. 4, 2017 the West Patrol Operations...
More Stories