LISBON - The salary being paid the Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency director is in the middle range of what EMA directors earn in the six other Ohio counties closest in size.
The median salary of the EMA directors in those six counties is $59,911 compared to $59,000, the current salary for county EMA Director Luke Newbold. The salaries ranged from $45,000 to $65,000, with the level of experience varying.
This newspaper conducted the salary survey after the issue came up at a May 22 meeting between county commissioners and a representative from FirstEnergy to discuss a new contract for continued funding of the EMA in 2014-15.
Because a portion of the county falls within 10 miles of FirstEnergy's nuclear power plant in Shippingport, Pa., county EMAs are required to have an emergency response plan should an accident occur. Because of this federal mandate, FirstEnergy has helped fund county EMAs within the zone.
The FirstEnergy representative said Columbiana County is the only one in its Shippingport zone where the county commissioners contribute nothing to the EMA. As such, they objected to commissioners hiring Newbold for $59,000 in January when none of the eight other EMA directors in the zone are paid more than $50,500.
FirstEnergy is asking commissioners to begin contributing to Newbold's salary, especially if they intend to follow through with plans to grant him a promised pay raise over the next year as he earns additional certifications. Newbold, 33, served 13 years as a Navy SEAL before deciding to return to the county, but he still remains in the Reserves.
Following is a list of the counties surveyed by the Morning Journal, all of which are outside FirstEnergy's Shippingport zone. Columbiana County has a population of 107,841:
- Allen County, population 106,331. Their EMA director has been on the job for 15 years and earns $62,296.
- Ashtabula County, population 101,497. Its director position is currently vacant but the salary range for the new director is $51,564 to $64,384.
- Miami County, population 102,506. Their director has been on the job for five years and is paid $57,887.
- Richland County, population 124,475. Their director, who had been on the job for two years, died recently and was earning $45,000. The former director was hired on an part-time basis until the position is filled.
- Wayne County, population 114,520. The director has been on the job 18 months and is paid $65,000.
- Wood County, population 125,488. The director has held the position for six years and is paid $61,936.
County Commissioner Tim Weigle said they have performed their own salary survey of county EMA directors in Ohio and reached the same conclusion, that Newbold's salary is about in the middle range.
"I don't find it to be excessive for the job we are asking him to do and the training he has to go through," he said.