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Seniority salaries bulk up D.C.’s payroll
Barry’s wave of hiring is lasting
Of every 10 parking enforcement agents in 2008, eight are still working for the city, compared with 3 in 10 counselors, The Times found.
“It’s pushing paper versus going into a jail where you never know what you’re going to get on a day-to-day basis, and you see a lot of turnover,” Ms. Stokes said.
An antiquated culture
High retention coupled with a rapidly changing citizenry has resulted in a growing divide between city workers and the public they serve. As the city has become younger, according to census figures, those running it have grown older.
Many jobs are still geared toward yesteryear. Millions of dollars are spent yearly on workers whose functions are making photocopies and transcribing handwritten forms, and job titles still distinguish between secretaries who can type and those who can’t. Illuminating a seeming preference for processing postal mail over email and filing cabinets over instantaneous searches is the fact that 1 in 5 clerical assistants have worked for the city for more than 20 years.
“There’s been a slow migration toward available technology,” said Charles Tucker, general counsel for the human resources department, one that has cost the city money and frustrated residents with inefficiency.
Retirements will open doors for young job seekers, save the city money and help it adopt technology that comes as a second nature to the younger generation.
“As the turnover increases … it presents a lot of opportunities for younger individuals,” he said. Agencies “have the opportunity to start all over again and tap into this new pool.”
Raises for the top
Soon after taking office, an investigation undertaken by council member Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, found that Mr. Gray was paying at least 14 political appointees higher salaries than the law allowed.
“The committee finds particularly troubling the cavalier attitude in which public money was spent in determining salaries. There appears to have been little, if any, regard to negotiating the lowest acceptable salary from appointees,” a council report said.
Last week, the council approved legislation granting exceptions for the employees who had been promised more, including $275,000 for schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson and $254,000 for Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, while maintaining the caps for their successors.
City law caps pay for agency heads at $179,096. The mayor also may appoint up to 160 people to policy roles making up to $193,125 without council confirmation. But other employees make more, including rank-and-file workers with extensive overtime.
City Administrator Allen Lew, whose salary is set by the mayor, makes $295,000, up from $204,000 for the city administrator in 2008, records show.
The municipal payroll includes some unexpected occupations. The Metropolitan Police Department, for instance, employs a dozen full-time scuba divers, most of whom make in the six figures.
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About the Author
Luke Rosiak is a projects reporter on The Washington Times’ investigative team. He formerly covered lobbying and campaign finance for two watchdog groups as well as transportation for The Washington Post. Luke can be reached at email@example.com.
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