The Oklahoma Tourism Commission voted Wednesday to increase Executive Director Deby Snodgrass’ annual salary by approximately $40,000 raising it to a level much higher than the newly-recommended minimum for the position. Snodgrass was paid more than $86,000 in state fiscal year 2012. However, a recent agency director salary review recommended an annual salary of between $101,206 and $151,810 with a midpoint salary of $126,508. Two commissioners, Lt. Governor Todd Lamb and Commissioner Julie Daniels, voted against the increase.
This raise comes at a time when nearly all state employees’ salaries are being reviewed through a compensation study by the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. The results of this study will be released November 19th.
“State employees have been patiently waiting for their compensation study’s recommendations even though many of them have not had pay raises in years. Employees know their pay is low and the reality is that any pay raises will probably be phased in over time,” said Tom Dunning, Oklahoma Public Employees Association communications coordinator. “Now they hear that some agencies are giving their directors big raises all at once. This is very frustrating to front-line staff providing services.”
Some agency boards, like the Tourism Commission, voted to raise their director’s salary despite the urging of the OPEA who earlier sent a letter to state agency boards and commissions asking them consider all their employees’ pay before increasing directors’ salaries. By waiting, OPEA believes state agencies could prioritize where they use their funds to best serve the programs they administer. The study could also provide recommendations about how to increase salaries incrementally instead of all at once.
“State agencies may need to raise their leadership positions’ pay so they can recruit and retain quality agency heads,” Dunning said. “These raises should only happen after the study is released and the state begins addressing front line staff pay. Raising top administrators’ pay while their staff waits sends a message to staff that the top jobs are important and the other jobs are not. This just further demoralizes state agency staff, many of whom have not had a raise in years.”]]>