CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A former secretary who is now married to Kanawha County prosecutor Mark Plants was given $15,000 in raises in the four years she worked at the prosecutor's office.
Sarah Foster and Plants were married in Kentucky last month. Foster was originally hired at a salary of $30,000 a year, replacing a secretary who made $43,000. By the time she left the prosecutor's office, Foster's salary was authorized at $45,000.
But Plants said her salary was not out of line with what he paid his other secretaries and assistants.
"Everybody makes between $35,000 and $53,000," he said. "I've got four support staff who make more than her.
"When you compare all my employees' salaries, they're all within the same range," Plants said.
Payroll records for Plants' secretaries show that 10 secretaries who worked in his office between 2009 and 2013. Of those, Foster made more than all at the end of her term except longtime employee Denise Facemyer. County Clerk Vera McCormick keeps payroll records for county offices.
Foster came to work in the prosecutor's office in 2009, and left in July 2013. Payroll records show Facemyre makes $53,500, Foster's salary was $45,000, Linda Auxier and Cynthia Robinson make $44,000, Lisa Thompson makes $40,500, Sandra Bradley makes $40,000, Jane Markins makes $39,500 and Melinda Martin makes $39,000.
Two other secretaries are no longer with the prosecutor's office. Renee McDonnell had an salary of $44,000 when she left, and Stephanie Steele's salary was $39,500.
Payroll records show Foster got five raises between 2009 and 2013.
Of Plants' other secretaries, one got three raises in the same time period, six got two raises, one got one raise and one got no raise, payroll records show.
Foster got a $5,000 raise in September 2009 and a $3,000 raise in October 2010.
In September 2011, Plants cut the salaries of his employees after being asked by the Kanawha County Commission to trim his budget. Secretaries received cuts between $500 and $4,700.
Like several other employees, Foster took a $500 pay cut in September 2011. But in December 2011, Plants gave her a raise of $4,000.
Foster got another raise of $3,000 in July 2012.
In September 2012, the Kanawha County Commission authorized across-the-board pay raises for all county employees. Like other secretaries, Foster got a $1,000 raise then.
Plants said Foster's raises were in line with her increasing responsibilities and job duties.
"She was supervising 16 other people in addition to doing budgeting, payroll, grand jury indictments, making travel arrangements and answering my phone," he said. "As you go up in experience and job duties, you go above $40,000 [in pay]. That's for everybody."
Plants said Suzette Raines, whom Foster replaced, and Steele were the secretaries whose jobs were most similar to Foster's, but neither had as many duties as Foster did.
When Foster left the position in July 2013, Plants hired her brother, Nathan Nelson, as her replacement. Plants said Nelson -- who is now his brother-in-law -- also makes $45,000.