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What's their time worth? A look at what Dickinson public sector employees are earning

Benjamin Franklin from the $100 bill.

How much do people earn? Some might covertly earmark the question as a conversation starter, which can be fueled by casual dinner conversation, subtle water cooler gossip or any other number of social communication phenomena.

Ultimately, some people are flat-out curious to know how much money the guy across the room makes. But how often does one actually get a peek at other people's paychecks?

Parade magazine released its 30th annual "What People Earn" report today, which highlights how certain American paychecks have changed over the years. The Dickinson Press is engaging in a similar venture to let area residents in on the pay grades of anyone from a local government employee to the average teacher salary.

While some may be eager to know how much money others make, others may simply be content with living in a region that sports intense job growth and strong economic prowess.

In August, Sen. John Hoeven said a Gallup Poll rated North Dakota the No. 1 state for job creation. The U.S. economy has an 8.2 percent unemployment rate. North Dakota's is slightly above 3 percent.

Then again, there are those who have not turned a blind eye toward local inflation, which has left a heftier price tag on everything from gas prices to a trip to the supermarket.

The salaries published below are those of city, county and education employees, and are numbers made available to public.

What People Earn: Dickinson

City of Dickinson

Mayor Dennis Johnson is compensated $10,800 for his duties as mayor, which is the same amount he would have earned in 2002, said Shelly Nameniuk, human resources representative for the City of Dickinson. She added that his city salary will increase by $3,000 in June.

City commissioners receive the same $8,400 their position earned 10 years ago, but that number will grow to $9,600 in June, Nameniuk said.

City Inspector Mel Zent makes $58,468, she said. That's up from the $34,736 salary his position warranted in 2002.

Nameniuk said City Administrator Shawn Kessel's annual salary is $106,000, up from the $64,000 paid to a Dickinson city administrator 10 years ago.

City Planner Ed Courton earns $65,508, up from the $43,845 his position would have brought in a decade ago, she added.

Stark County

County commissioners receive $14,586 for their roles, up from approximately $11,000 in 2002, Stark County Deputy Auditor Lynn Betlaf said.

Stark County State's Attorney Tom Henning makes $88,487, increased from $55,689 that came with the job 10 years ago.

She said Sheriff Clarence Tuhy is paid $68,825. The position pulled in $43,155 in 2002.

County Auditor Kay Haag makes $63,308 today, compared to the $33,196 an auditor was paid a decade ago, Betlaf said.

She added that County Recorder RaeDeen Weinberger makes the same $52,032 that she would have in 2002.

Making $55,120 today, Tax Director Diane Brines' position also has seen no increase since 2002, she said.

Emergency Manager Bill Fahlsing makes $48,648, compared to the approximately $40,000 paid in 2002, she added.

Additionally, Veteran Services Manager Leslie Ross makes $46,347, up from a salary of $33,196 a decade ago.


A teacher working in Dickinson has an average base pay of $47,875. However, the average salary of Dickinson teachers is $49,679 and the average total compensation of $63,729, according to the North Dakota Department of Instruction.

Dickinson Public Schools Superintendent Doug Sullivan earns $145,000 a year, according to the organization's administrative office.

Dickinson State University President D.C. Coston makes $205,320 per year, according to the State Board of Higher Education's February minutes.