LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas lottery spokesperson Julie Baldridge claimed Wednesday that Grant County Sheriff Lance Huey was hired at what lottery staff members believed was the midpoint salary grade because a state Web site listed the salary as such.
Huey was hired to serve as the lottery's director of security at a salary of $115,644, which Baldridge said actually is the peak of the salary range for the position. Baldridge said the position and salary was listed on the website of the state's Department of Finance and Administration as the midpoint range.
The salary had been listed among the 2010 career pay grades on the DFA site, Baldridge said. A check of the site late Wednesday afternoon revealed no listing for 2010 career pay grades. Baldridge added that to her knowledge, no one on the lottery commission or at DFA was ever made aware of the mistake, and that the salary grades of numerous positions were incorrectly listed.
Lottery officials have received much criticism recently over staff members' salaries. In response to the concern over high salaries, lottery director Ernie Passailague, himself the third-highest paid lottery chief in the country with a salary of $324,000, outlined cost-savings initiatives at Wednesday's commission meeting in Little Rock.
Original plans called for a lottery staff of 88. Passailaigue is paring that number down to 77, freeing up $379,757 in salaries. Accounting for the benefits associated with those salaries, the cost savings realized by not filling the 11 positions is almost $600,000. In addition, two positions were downgraded for a salary savings of $43,822.
The 11 positions that won't be filled — their responsibilities will be absorbed by other positions or were deemed not necessary — include copy editor, product specialist, events manager and coordinator, claims manager, claims assistant, and administrative support specialist. The downgraded positions are treasurer (starting salary for which will now be $79,092, down from $122,914) and deputy security director (now $75,000 from $82,246).
In other business, the commission on Wednesday voted to lease office space in the Union Plaza Building at 124 W. Capitol Ave. in Little Rock.
First-year rent for the 21,000-SF space in the building would be $300,868. But commissioners voted to negotiate a possible 6-year lease on the space, which would cost $221,727.58 per year.
The commission considered space for its headquarters in other Little Rock properties, including the Comcast, Regions Bank and Bank of America buildings, as well as the Metropolitan tower. But commissioners liked the Union Plaza deal.
The commission currently leases space in the Museum building in the River Market.