AUSTIN (AP) - The Texas chief of emergency management was paid his $223,000 salary during the last fiscal year through a complicated, previously undisclosed arrangement in which he was not considered a state government employee.
Nim Kidd is paid through a setup that involves one paycheck, two jobs and agreements between three agencies, the Austin American-Statesman reported. While Kidd supervises the state response to natural disasters for the Texas Department of Public Safety, he technically remains a San Antonio firefighter, and the money for his salary comes from a third agency, the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service.
By keeping a position as a firefighter, Kidd collects credit toward his city pension while working in a state job. Kidd had worked for the San Antonio fire department for 17 years before taking over the state emergency management job.
San Antonio firefighters can retire after 20 years at 50 percent of their pay.
Kidd also gets overtime pay, while hundreds of DPS positions are exempt from federal overtime rules. He earned $21,724 in overtime pay last year, according to San Antonio records.
The deal was not revealed when Kidd was hired two years ago. Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for DPS, called the arrangement “legal and transparent.” Kidd declined to comment.
Kidd’s contract authorizes a maximum total salary of $268,193, but Cesinger said his actual pay is “not anywhere near that.” Kidd is paid more than officials in similar positions in California, New York and Florida.
Jim Mullen, director of emergency management in Washington and a former president of the National Emergency Management Association, said he didn’t know any other directors who had a deal like Kidd’s.
DPS director Steve McCraw — who was paid almost $60,000 less than Kidd during the last fiscal year — named Kidd as the interim emergency management chief in June 2010. The former division chief, Jack Colley, had died the previous month.
Shortly after his appointment, Hurricane Alex hit near the Texas-Mexico border.
“Chief Kidd came to work before he was required to, in order to lead the state’s preparation and response to this disaster,” Cesinger said.
His current contract runs through June 2013.
Josh Havens, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry, deferred questions about the deal to DPS.
“Gov. Perry has a lot of respect for Chief Kidd, his lifetime of service as a first responder and his unequivocal abilities to lead our state’s emergency management efforts,” Havens said in an email. “The governor agreed (and still does agree) that Nim Kidd was the best person for the job.”
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