CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne has repeatedly called planning for a more humane jail one of his top priorities. Yet, the point person overseeing that work has a second job.
Nailah Byrd, who was recently named deputy chief of staff responsible for developing and implementing the county’s long-term strategy for public safety and justice services – including for the jail, sheriff’s department and medical examiner’s office – also remains the county’s clerk of courts.
In the latter position, she is the official record keeper for the county’s Court of Common Pleas General Division, Domestic Relations Division and the Court of Appeals, Eighth Appellate District, managing a budget of $8 million.
It’s unclear if Ronayne intends for her to hold both positions permanently. While he has solicited applicants for other top positions in his administration, such as law director, director of human resources and director of health and human services, he has not done so for clerk of courts.
“She is performing duties in both roles and will continue to do so for the time being,” county spokesman Tyler Sinclair told cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer on Friday. “We have full faith in her ability to fulfill the responsibilities of both positions, as we continue to evaluate.”
The clerk is appointed by the executive and does not have set terms.
Byrd’s two titles make her one of the highest paid employees falling under Ronayne’s purview, behind medical staff.
When she was solely clerk under former executive Armond Budish, she was earning $163,000 per year, according to December 2021 pay records provided by the county. Her salary jumped to nearly $190,000 by the end of 2022, updated records show.
Today, she’s earning $219,000 – a total $56,000 raise.
That salary is paid out of the clerk of court’s budget, Sinclair said, despite some of her other duties falling outside of the scope of that office.
Except for seven forensic pathologists who work in the medical examiner’s office and require medical degrees, the only other employee whose salary exceeds Byrd’s is Ron Johnson, the county’s chief information officer. He makes $254,000 a year.
Ronayne’s Chief of Staff Eric Wobser, who Byrd reports to, falls just below her with a salary of $189,000. And pay records show Bryd is now also earning up to $60,000 more than the other chiefs and directors who oversee county departments and make up Ronayne’s cabinet.
Ronayne is earning the standard salary for an executive: $175,000.
Those numbers only account for Byrd’s county pay.
As clerk of courts, she also receives a separate stipend of $12,142 that is paid by the state for her work with the appellate court, according to the Supreme Court of Ohio. That brings her total current compensation to $231,145.
Medical Examiner Thomas Gilson, the highest paid county employee under the executive, earns a salary of $324,000. (Pay records reflect only employees who fall under the executive. Salaries for other county offices, such as prosecutor employees and judges, are not included.)
Byrd has served as clerk of courts since 2015. She was named deputy chief of staff for justice and safety in December.