All but six of the county's 18 fire districts provided enough information to make it easy to track the salaries and benefits of individual paramedics and others paid with Pinellas County tax monies. Even among some of those that didn't, some details stand out.
The county funds 12 paramedics for the Lealman district and four for Tierra Verde, which Lealman serves.
Lealman told the county that 10 of the 12 make $70,515 a year, but fire district records show that the nine top-paid paramedics each make $64,765 annually. The 10th highest paid earns $62,347. The difference in the amount claimed on the county records with the amount shown on Lealman records for those 10 is at least $59,918.
Salaries for the other two and the Tierra Verde paramedics are also higher on the county form than on Lealman records.
The overage, say Lealman officials, is caused by holiday time and holiday time accrual. Each paramedic is allowed 120 hours of holiday time a year. That has to be included in the salary figures. But the paramedic can accrue up to 120 hours. If he does, then he receives any excess holiday time as pay. All that figures into the amount that's charged to the county, said fire Chief Rick Graham and administrative assistant Tammy Bastian.
The formula line in the county form shows that officials from Largo added $3,300 to each employee's salary.
That number, fire Chief Mike Wallace said, "denotes an average … overtime for all positions since it is impossible to project who will get overtime during the upcoming year. In some cases the city will pay more for overtime to one individual and less to another."
Although the city provided no information to track individual employees, one could be traced because he had a unique title.
Under Pinellas Park's pension plan, the city no longer pays into the system for that employee; however, a claim for a pension payment had been made to the county.
Fire chief Doug Lewis said the city is required to make sure all pension plans remain solvent. Doing that in bad economic times requires a lump-sum payment. Pinellas Park has figured out how much of that lump sum is attributable to each employee. The city passed on the amount attributed to that employee to the county.
Lewis also conceded that Pinellas Park included overtime when listing salaries on the county request form.