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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Want a 34% Raise?

From the February 26, 2016 edition of the Scranton Times:

" him a raise from $97,000 to $130,000..."

The "him" in question is the executive director of the Scranton Sewer Authority.  Another officer of the authority was also given a substantial raise.  You can read the article HERE.

The solicitor of the sewer authority said that the raises "...are to compensate the officials for all of their additional work related to the proposed sewer authority sale.".

Now I have no doubt that engineering the sale of the sewer authority requires significant effort on the part of the salaried professionals that run that organization.  But they are salaried for a reason:  They are paid to do whatever the job entails, even when that job did not initially entail a sale of the authority.

I've been working in the private sector for almost 30 years.  In none of that tenure I can't ever recall personally hearing of an executive, barring a promotion, receiving a 34% increase in base pay, not even for organizations without extensive bonus or other additional compensation arrangements.  Welcome to the magical world of Scranton and the public sector.

As a side note, should a teacher who during the school year gets additional special needs students in his/her class also get a 34% increase in pay?  I've known teachers and this kind of scenario happens.  And it creates a lot of extra work.

Again, I am absolutely sure that the Executive Director is doing a lot of extra work.  But that comes with the title of "Executive Director".  Should he be entitled for some remuneration for that work?  Of course.  Heck, maybe he should get some kind of performance bonus when the authority sale has concluded (and Scranton sells yet another fixed asset to help pay for on-going financial obligations).  Increasing a base salary by a third?  That's simply ridiculous.

Want to know what else is ridiculous?  The fact that no one seemed to notice or care about the 34% raise.

A few questions should have been asked in this case:

  1. How does the executive director's base pay compare to peers in similar locations?
  2. What other forms of compensation, both direct and indirect, does the executive director receive?
  3. Who actually came up with the 34% increase number?
  4. How was the 34% increase number determined?
  5. Is the executive director covered under a defined benefit pension plan, in which benefits are determined largely based upon final years compensation?
  6. Are there any other benefits provided to the executive director which are tied to compensation (such as life insurance)?

Look, it could be entirely reasonable to give the executive director this raise, but questions should have been asked.  This isn't about the executive director as a person either.  I'm all for anyone doing the best they can when it comes to being compensated well; I just think that heightened scrutiny is due when the public is forced to pay for that compensation (and the public has no choice but to pay this's not as if a Scranton resident can say "Well, I don't like this deal; I'm going to create my own sewer system".)

Scranton's authorities have long been shadowy, insider places.  This recent news item proves that tradition continues, robustly and with vigor.

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