To the editor:
I was surprised to read the announcement that new city manager Rashad Young was hired with an annual salary of $245,000. It is an unjustified amount of taxpayer money and demonstrative of poor decision making by the city’s leadership.
The process City Hall may or may not have used to justify the new city manager’s compensation should potentially worry and concern all Alexandrians. Did the city’s leadership justify his salary by basing it on equivalent salaries of our federal government’s most senior roles? Clearly not: his salary easily outpaces top paid federal workers. Janet Napolitano, secretary of Health and Human Services, and Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense, each have salaries of $199,700 in 2011.
Did the city’s leadership justify his salary by basing it on the salaries of other important executive roles in states across the country? No. His salary easily trumps the pay of state governors (the highest paid governor in 2011 will earn $179,000).
Did the city’s leadership justify his salary by basing it on a moderate salary increase from his previous salaries while taking into account the responsibilities of running a bigger city? No. Mr. Young earned about $145,000 in 2009 when he worked as the city manager for Dayton, Ohio. He earned $179,500 when he took the city manager post in Greensboro, a larger city. The increase the City of Alexandria agreed to cannot possibly be related to his increase in responsibilities, especially since Greensboro has a much larger population than Alexandria.
Did the city’s leadership justify his salary by basing it on his long track record and distinguished record of government service? I don’t think so. Mr. Young has approximately 13 years of total experience: five years of experience in city manager positions and about eight years of working in local government roles in Dayton.
In a city that has laid off city workers in the last few years, struggled with the same economic issues that cities across the United States have struggled with, and raised the property taxes of its residents several times, I believe this to be an unjustifiably high level of compensation for a moderately experienced city employee. It shows exceptionally poor decision-making by our city council and an inability to connect with the economic realities many Alexandria residents currently face.
Lastly, by not offering the Mr. Young a compensation package that is financially justified, our leaders squandered an excellent opportunity to reduce our operating burden and show fiscal leadership.