How much do you make?

Turns out, that’s a very intimate question, tied up in identity, self-worth and a whiff of secrecy.

We know the broad numbers. The average Tampa Bay resident makes $45,434 annually. Our average service job pays just $26,305. Lots of folks make Florida’s minimum wage of $8.25 an hour. There are four billionaires who call Tampa Bay home.

But dry statistics can be boring, while people are interesting. Inspired by Parade magazine’s list of what regular Americans earn doing their jobs, we put together an earnings snapshot of the Tampa Bay area. It’s not scientific, but it illuminates in a way a headline or number can’t capture.

So that meant asking people what they make. I thought it would be easy.

People were very reluctant to talk about their income. Some feared discipline from their bosses. Others feared jealousy from colleagues (if they made too much) or judgment from friends (if they made too little). A few low-earners didn’t want to discourage people from entering the field they love. (And public officials, paid by your tax dollars, are part of the public record.)

Below are some of the brave souls who shared their earnings.

Let’s start with me. I make $39,000.

Margarita Romo (right), with volunteer, Rosalinda Campanilla (left) and other volunteers with the Farmworkers Self-Help organization package and hand out groceries to needy families at the Norma Godinez Learning Center in Dade City on Thursday, May 24, 2018. Times | LANCE ROTHSTEIN
Margarita Romo (right), with volunteer, Rosalinda Campanilla (left) and other volunteers with the Farmworkers Self-Help organization package and hand out groceries to needy families at the Norma Godinez Learning Center in Dade City on Thursday, May 24, 2018. Times | LANCE ROTHSTEIN

Margarita Romo

81
Dade City
Activist and pastor
$12,800*

*$10,800 from Social Security and $2,000 from Farmworkers Self-Help Inc.

Norma Godinez didn’t die in vain.

The 5-year-old and daughter of migrant farmworkers was killed in 1981 after an accident in a field. Her death kick-started the activism of Margarita Romo, who has dedicated her life to improving the lives of the people who still labor picking fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Romo, who grew up working in the fields, founded Farmworkers Self-Help Inc. in 1982 in Dade City as a direct response to Godinez’s death.

“Children should not be in the field,” Romo said. “Children should be in a place that’s safe.”

Today, Farmworkers Self-Help is a lifeline for those field workers, providing English classes, translation services and a soup kitchen. The group helps pair those in need of legal assistance with family and immigration attorneys and gives rides to Moffitt Cancer Center. It connects undocumented parents who are being deported back to Mexico with legal adults willing to adopt their American children. The organization fostered a church, a barbershop and a fruit stand and also runs theater and dance groups for children.

Some of the children who have passed through the organization have become doctors and lawyers. Others have died or are in prison.

“We have both,” Romo said. “We have the good, the bad and the ugly. But we have to be there to do all we can for all of them.”

• • •

Derek Donnelly poses for a portrait in his studio in Pinellas Park on Thursday, May 24, 2018. Donnelly is a local artist who has painted many murals in Downtown St. Petersburg. EVE EDELHEIT | Times
Derek Donnelly poses for a portrait in his studio in Pinellas Park on Thursday, May 24, 2018. Donnelly is a local artist who has painted many murals in Downtown St. Petersburg. EVE EDELHEIT | Times

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Derek Donnelly

35
Pinellas Park
Muralist
$50,000

Derek Donnelly was enrolled in an arts magnet program at Gibbs High School. The college-level courses were so intense, he lost interest in art after graduating in 2001.

“I was kind of burned out after a few years in high school,” he said. “And I was kind of discouraged, too.”

Inspired by what he called “a spark of something magical” in downtown St. Petersburg, Donnelly returned to art at 27 after years of odd jobs.

In 2012, he opened up a studio on Central Avenue, investing all the money he had, $2,000 or $3,000, into the space.

“A horrible business plan,” he said. He closed the studio in 2014. “But it definitely served its purpose.”

These days, Donnelly’s mural work is all over town. His rise as an artist has closely paralleled that of St. Petersburg as an art town.

“It’s a pretty remarkable time to be in St. Pete,” he said. “It’s a dream come true.”

• • •

Laurie Kelaita, 46, of Lutz, prepares to set rat traps in a home in Odessa on Tuesday (5/22/18) while working with her company, Superior Animal Trapping. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times
Laurie Kelaita, 46, of Lutz, prepares to set rat traps in a home in Odessa on Tuesday (5/22/18) while working with her company, Superior Animal Trapping. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Laurie Kelaita

47
Lutz
Animal trapper
$48,000

Animal trapping wasn’t Laurie Kelaita’s first career. Before that, she spent two decades as a professional hairdresser.

“I love hair and I’m really good at it,” she said. “I’ve always been good at it.”

She left it behind in 2009 — “there was too much drama” — and became a certified nursing assistant. After her father died in 2015, she took to trapping to feel closer to him.

She had grown up on his rice farm in California, chasing away the coyotes and rats that threatened the crops. She has four pairs of his cowboy boots, and wears his old belt every day on the job.

“Every time I wear (my dad’s cowboy boots and belt), I feel like he’s a part of me,” Kelaita said.

• • •

Pablo Herrera

22
St. Petersburg
Part-time barista and student
$6,537
“I just really like coffee and I wanted to pursue a part-time job while I’m in school here at USF.”

• • •

Becca McCoy

40
Gulfport
Actor
$15,000
“The actors in town make nothing.”

• • •

Shawn Hamilton

39
St. Petersburg
Visual coordinator at HSN
$30,000

• • •

Robbie Crowley

32
Lakeland
Frontier Airlines flight attendant
$17,568

• • •

Carmen Taylor

54
St. Petersburg
Server at Munch’s
$38,000*

*Includes wage and tips

• • •

Kenny Oliver

47
St. Petersburg
Auto mechanic
$22,360

• • •

Chris Bridges

54
South Pasadena
Engineer with Hillsborough County
$111,000

• • •

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Shelly Cooper

42
Riverview
Housekeeper at Tampa General Hospital
$26,000

• • •

Christopher Baxter

42
Tampa
Armed guard with G4S
$27,560
“It’s the best job I could get at the time I retired from the Army.”

• • •

Milen Santiago

46
Riverview
Leasing agent
$50,000

• • •

Luanna Baughman

47
Lakeland
Tampa Fire Rescue captain
$99,590
“I didn’t want to do a desk job. I wanted to do something that would keep me physically active.”

• • •

Deandre Gwinn

23
St. Petersburg
Publix cashier
$18,278

• • •

Chelsea Kuzel

24
St. Petersburg
Personal trainer at 4U Fitness
$30,000
“With this company, since it’s growing so fast, we have the opportunity to grow with it.”

• • •

Raisel Rodriguez

38
Tampa
Long-haul truck driver who owns his own rig
$180,000

• • •

Susan McNulty

50
New Port Richey
Mitchell High School journalism teacher*
$54,731

* Pasco County’s 2018 teacher of the year

• • •

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Vadim Jhebotar

38
Hudson
Short-haul truck driver
$40,000

• • •

Yari Gulvin

“I like that I can bond with certain clients.”

27
Dade City
State Farm insurance agent
$40,000

• • •

Liz Smith

54
St. Petersburg
Bloomin’ Brands CEO
$7.45 million*

*In base salary, stock options and other compensation.

• • •

Peggy Capps

69
Ridge Manor
Antiques dealer in Dade City
$25,000
“I love doing this. You have to like it to do it.”

• • •

Adriana Contreras

47
Dade City
Salon owner
$9,000

• • •

Richard Ripplinger

60
Seminole
Assistant state attorney
$135,110
“(My older brother) said you ought to go to the prosecutor’s clinic (in law school) because a lot of the better defense attorneys were former prosecutors. He said, ‘Don’t stay too long.’ I’ve stayed ever since.”

• • •

Enrique Velazquez

42
Zephyrhills
Construction worker
$15,000

• • •

Philip J. Federico

61
St. Petersburg
Circuit judge
$160,688

• • •

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Kristy Andersen

66
St. Petersburg
Documentary filmmaker
$4,000-$30,000

Minimum of $4,000 in DVD sales annually, plus Social Security and up to $30,000, dependent on grants

“There’s not a lot of people out there trying to make documentaries for a living in Florida.”

• • •

Judy Genshaft

70
Tampa
University of South Florida System president
$505,837*

*On top of that base, she’s eligible for up to a $300,000 performance-based stipend and $101,167 in deferred compensation

• • •

Karyn Kinzie

37
Port Richey
Principal of Fox Hollow Elementary School
$75,499

• • •

Rick Kriseman

55
St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg mayor
$188,131

• • •

Bob Buckhorn

59
Tampa
Tampa mayor
$154,748

• • •

Kanika Tomalin

42
St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg deputy mayor and city administrator
$185,000

• • •

Michael Gulley

26
St. Petersburg
Pilot
$120,000*

*In base salary, plus up to $20,000 in incentives.

“I could never do a desk job. My mother was a flight attendant so I grew up around airplanes. I just fell in love with it as a kid.”

• • •

Bonnie Bresnyan

55
Temple Terrace
Lewis Elementary School special education teacher*
$66,200

*Hillsborough County’s 2018 teacher of the year.

• • •

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Jameis Winston

24
Odessa
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback
$3.891 million

• • •

Eric Fiske

34
Tampa
Hillsborough Community College adjunct professor
$20,000

• • •

Jessie Boyce

31
Seminole
Tyrone Middle School sixth-grade teacher*
$45,152

*Pinellas County’s 2018 outstanding educator.

• • •

Darlene Lebo

49
St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg High School principal
$102,586

• • •

Kathy Castor

51
Tampa
U.S. representative, Florida’s 14th Congressional District
$174,000

• • •

Tonjua Williams

54
St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg College president
$300,000

• • •

George Cretekos

71
Clearwater
Clearwater mayor
$26,795

• • •

Bill Horne

68
Clearwater
Clearwater city manager
$202,660

• • •

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Mike Grego

60
Palm Harbor
Pinellas County Schools superintendent
$282,093

• • •

Kurt Browning

59
Dade City
Pasco County Schools superintendent
$150,344

• • •

Donna Lusczynski

49
Tampa
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy
$171,600

• • •

Paul Tash

63
St. Petersburg
Chairman and CEO of Times Publishing Co.
$484,516

• • •

Jeff Eakins

53
Brandon
Hillsborough County Schools superintendent
$225,000

• • •

Ken Atwater

66
Tampa
Hillsborough Community College president
$324,926

• • •

Derryl O’Neal

58
Madeira Beach
Madeira Beach fire chief
$97,346
“I’ve been involved in the fire service since 1979. I got into it right out of high school.”

• • •

James “Joc” C. O’Rourke

57
Orono, Minn., and a second home on Harbour Island in Tampa
CEO of Mosaic
$8.35 million*

*In base salary, stock options and other compensation.

• • •

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Ryan Yarbrough

26
St. Petersburg
Tampa Bay Rays pitcher
$545,000

• • •

Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird and staff writers Marc Topkin, Rick Stroud, Andrew Meacham, Colette Bancroft, Jay Cridlin, Christopher Spata, Jeffrey S. Solochek, Marlene Sokol, Craig Pittman, Tara McCarty, Jamal Thalji, Graham Brink and Amy Hollyfield contributed to this report.

Designed by: Nick Saffan