- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 22, 2003

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams said he and members of the D.C. Council will review costs in some city agencies to try to make up for money spent on six-figure employee salaries.
His comments came after The Washington Times reported yesterday that the District had many more city workers earning $100,000 salaries than the much-larger city of Chicago, and 10 times more than Baltimore, a city with a comparable population.
Mr. Williams yesterday defended the salaries and said comparisons of the District with other cities were not fair.
"I think we're getting our money's worth," Mr. Williams said. "I'd like to see a comparison where you say what does it take for the state, county and city to run Chicago, not just what does it take for the city to run Chicago. See, we're a state, a county and a city."
The District largely depends on the federal government, which funds most of the city's spending budget. The federal government appropriated $5.8 billion to the District in fiscal 2003. The city spends $1.6 billion a year on salaries.
Of the District's 34,000 employees, 575 earn $100,000 or more annually. Chicago, a city more than five times the size of the District, with 2.9 million residents and a city budget of $4.7 billion, employs 40,093, and 419 of them earn $100,000 or more.
Baltimore has almost 80,000 more residents than the District, which has a population of 572,000 and a city budget of $2.1 billion. Baltimore has 15,593 workers, of whom 34, including the mayor and the state's attorney, earn more than $100,000 a year.
Mr. Williams said several agencies that show increases in six-figure salaries such as the D.C. public schools, the Office of the People's Counsel and the Office of the Chief Financial Officer for a total of 261 employees are independent and not under his control.
Facing a $323 million budget shortfall, Mr. Williams said he and the council members would review spending "from contracts to staffing" at three city agencies that are under his control so they could find money to offset the six-figure salaries. Agencies that will be reviewed are the city's Department of Mental Health, the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services.
"We are committed down the road to saving some money," Mr. Williams said.
The mayor said the increase in six-figure salaries from 301 employees in 1999, when he took office, to 575 employees today was a result of the union and nonunion raises approved by him and the council. The creation of several new agencies and the implementation of the management supervisory service, where city employees are subject to higher performance expectations in exchange for better pay, also have contributed to the increase, he said.
City officials said the annual salaries of 159 city employees passed the $100,000 mark because of policy decisions approved by the mayor and the council. An additional 57 were nonunion pay increases approved by the mayor and the council. Sixty-one others received mandatory union raises and position upgrades.
In addition, the city hired 52 employees, each earning $100,000, when it chartered several new agencies during Mr. Williams' first term. For example, the Department of Public Works was split into three agencies, creating the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Transportation.
Council member Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat, said her real concern is that the high salaries are creeping too far down the management chain. She referred to the case of a former Chicago patrol officer who was hired by the Metropolitan Police Department as an information technology specialist, earning more than $100,000 a year.
"In terms of whether we're getting our money's worth, I think the jury's still out," she said.
Numerous midlevel staffers at various city government agencies are earning six-figure salaries. In the office of Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi whose annual salary is $171,900 39 staffers make $100,000 a year.
Suzanne Peck, the city's chief technology officer, has 34 computer analysts and information technology specialists who each earn more than $120,000 a year. Average annual salaries for similar private-sector jobs range from $37,000 for an entry-level position to $120,000 for a job that requires at least 15 years of experience, according to the Princeton Review, a company that helps students prepare for college tests and choose careers.
Mrs. Peck makes $139,947 annually. Special and staff assistants in Mrs. Peck's office are earning as much as $103,318.
Documents obtained by The Times show that at least 30 public school employees make more than $100,000 a year, including Superintendent Paul L. Vance, who earns $175,000, and five principals who earn a total of more than $523,000.
Mr. Williams makes $125,000 a year, and D.C. Council members each make at least $92,000. The D.C. government's highest-paid manager is Bobby Goldwater, who earns $250,000 as executive director of the independent Sports and Entertainment Commission.
Brian DeBose contributed to this report.

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