August 29, 2021
Several dozen state employees outside of public colleges and universities have received raises of at least $10,000 so far in the fiscal year that started July 1, according to state records.
These increases mostly resulted from promotions coupled with merit raises.
Executive-branch agencies were authorized to use an amount equal to 3% of the total of base salaries to grant merit raises to selected employees. Officials estimated the merit raises will cost about $28 million this fiscal year, which ends June 30.
The average salary is $45,523 for the executive branch’s 22,886 employees at the start of fiscal 2022, up from the average salary of $44,520 for 24,109 executive-branch employees at the end of fiscal 2021, said Kay Barnhill, state personnel administrator.
She said the agencies have about 1,200 fewer employees at the start of fiscal 2022 compared with the end of fiscal 2021 because there “has been so much fluctuation in our workforce due to covid, retirement of higher-paying positions, etc. that the average salary has also fluctuated as well.”
Executive-branch agencies do not include those of other constitutional officers, like attorney general, secretary of state, and treasurer. Those officials decide on their employees’ pay.
The three largest raises have been granted to associate medical examiners at the state Crime Laboratory.
• Charles Kokes’ salary increased by $68,123 to $295,201. Kokes served as the acting chief medical examiner while state officials, for two years, conducted a national search to fill the post, said Crime Laboratory Director Kermit Channell.
• Stephen Erickson’s salary increased by $67,261 to $291,466.
• Jennifer Forsyth’s salary rose by $62,883 to $272,492.
In addition, associate medical examiner Frank Peretti’s salary increased by $31,916 to $244,698 and associate medical examiner Adam Craig’s pay increased by $30,161 to $231,235.
Channell said in a letter dated May 5 to Department of Public Safety Secretary Jami Cook that the salary increases for forensic pathologists are “necessary to maintain our accreditation, continue operations of our medical examiner’s office and enable the lab to continue to serve the criminal justice community and provide timely death certificates for the citizens of Arkansas.”
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