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Vehicles travel on U.S. Route 95 south of Tonopah on Friday, Aug 11, 2017. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Typically, leaders of state agencies in Nevada make the highest salary of anyone in their department.

But that hasn’t been the case for the state’s Office of Traffic Safety — the agency charged with highway traffic safety that helps administer the “Zero Fatalities” state traffic safety program.

According to a state budget closing packet, Office Administrator Amy Davey is eligible for a top salary of $91,842 annually prior to any contributions to the state pension system. 

But her position is considered unclassified — meaning she isn’t eligible for overtime — while the office’s deputy division administrator, which is considered a classified position in the state’s pay structure, is eligible for overtime — meaning that position ends up with annual compensation that “regularly surpasses” the head of the agency.

That’s why state lawmakers on Wednesday agreed to give Davey a pay bump, voting during a joint budget subcommittee to raise her annual salary by about $29,800 — putting her salary in line with other agency heads within the state Department of Public Safety (the office is housed within DPS).

According to a budget closing packet, the new administrator salary set at a maximum of $117,000 a year is in line with the salary of the administrator of the state’s Office of Cyber Defense Coordination Division, and is no longer the lowest salary among division heads. 

Lawmakers on the joint budget subcommittee didn’t spend much time discussing the proposed salary bump, but Sen. Pete Goicoechea (R-Eureka) said he would support the motion given the state’s recent increase in traffic fatalities this year.

“No amount of money would make me take this job,” Goicoechea said. “Truly, we've got some real issues as far as traffic safety is concerned in this state, and I'd be very, very supportive. We've got thousands of miles of two lanes that are safety hazards and we're going to have to deal with it...I don’t know who wants this job, but compensation is probably not near enough.”

Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in Behind the Bar, The Nevada Independent’s newsletter dedicated to comprehensive coverage of the 2021 Legislature. Sign up for the newsletter here.

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