- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2003

Several D.C. Council members said yesterday they have no objections to the high salaries that more than 500 municipal employees receive, but they are not convinced the city is getting what it's paying for.
"I don't mind paying people what they're worth, and I don't think the case has been made that we are getting value for our money," said council member David A. Catania, at-large Republican.
Mr. Catania's comments came a day after The Washington Times reported that the city was paying 575 managers more than $100,000 a year. The high salaries are costing the city more than $60 million annually out of the $1.6 billion the city spends on salaries each year for its 34,000 workers.
A large number of the high-level payouts are going to mid-level and senior-level managers. Like Mr. Catania, council member Adrian M. Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat, said the problem goes much deeper than the salary levels.
"I think there has been too much of a concentration on bringing in outsiders on these high salaries and a focus on competing with the private sector," Mr. Fenty said.
He said those employees who perform well are typically those who have roots in the city and are committed to it.
Mr. Fenty said former Fire and Emergency Medical Services Chief Ronnie Few and former Department of Human Services Director Carolyn W. Colvin were two of the outsiders "whose goal [was] to get rich off of the city."
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams hired Chief Few and Miss Colvin during his first term. Both have since resigned.
"To the extent that the mayor has hired people who are committed to the city, he has done well, but most of the bad hires have not been residents," Mr. Fenty said.
The council has been trying to get Mr. Williams to look at the salary issue for a year.
Mr. Williams, who makes more than $140,000 a year, and the council members, who earn at least $92,000, have pointed at each other and elsewhere to explain why one of every 68 city workers now makes more than $100,000 a year.
Council member Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat, issued a report to Mr. Williams and the council in September outlining the 90 percent increase in $100,000 salaries throughout the government.
"We've finally gotten his attention," she said yesterday.
Mrs. Patterson said she has fought for better salaries for agency directors and to make their pay competitive with their counterparts in the federal government and the surrounding jurisdictions.
"But we only have 20 city agencies with 20 directors. My concern has been the growth of the number of people making executive salaries," she said.
The number of D.C. jobs especially the ones with $100,000 salaries far exceeds that of Baltimore, a similarly sized city.
Baltimore has 15,593 employees. Only 34 city government workers, including the mayor and the state's attorney, earn more than $100,000. Mayor Martin O'Malley makes $125,000, and State's Attorney Patricia Jessamy earns $135,000. Baltimore has 651,154 residents. The District has 572,059.
Wyoming, with its D.C.-sized population of 493,782, has 41 employees among its 9,100-member government work force who earn more than $100,000 a year. Those employees include the governor, 24 judges, eight psychiatrists, six doctors and two agency directors.
However, the city of Boston, where Mr. Williams previously worked, has more employees earning executive pay than the District.
"Excluding schools, Boston has a little over 18,000 employees and 776 making over $100,000," said Lisa Pollack, spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
The Times also reported that the $1.6 billion the District will spend on salaries in 2004 is one-third of the city's $3.6 billion portion of the budget.
The federal government funds the salaries of employees who work in the courts, prisons and the prosecutor's office.
"When a clear majority of the city's budget is spent on salaries, any increases are a serious issue," Mrs. Patterson said.
The council will be looking closely at the issue during this budget session, Mrs. Patterson said. She is reviewing high salaries in the agencies she oversees as chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
She is urging other council members heading committees to do the same.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide