The average of seven top salary and benefit packages paid to DMEA administrators in 2011 was over $193,000. The total that year for the seven positions was $1.35 million.
Six candidates running for three openings on the DMEA board heard those numbers during a candidate forum on May 15.
The salary and benefit compensation of DMEA's highest-compensated employees is a matter of public record, said Mark Eckhart, former DMEA board member who presented the information at the forum.
Eckhart posed a two-part question to the candidates based on the figures: Do the candidates support the wage and benefit packages at those levels; and, do the candidates support DMEA employees having two pension plans (direct contribution and direct benefit) which are completely funded by member/ratepayers with no contribution from employee wages?
Candidates responded with generally favorable comments about DMEA's compensation policies. They responded in the following order.
Tony Prendergast, South Region incumbent, said, "We need to attract and retain employees who can run the business and move it forward. That takes expertise and we need to be in the market for that expertise."
Kay Heinschel, South Region challenger, said, "Tony makes good points." Heinschel pointed out that the salary figures "aren't surprising" compared with the industry, though they "look real high" in this area with high unemployment. As current management retires, replacements may not be paid as much, he added.
Jim Elder, District 4 candidate, asked who current management would be replaced with? In order to compete, DMEA needs to compensate, he said. Of current management he said, "The brain power is amazing."
Erica Lewis Kennedy, District 4 candidate, said that DMEA staff was responsible for putting the South Canal project together and "will save $1 million per year. You get what you pay for." She said the cycle of hiring and training staff who then leave for better pay is expensive, too.
Olen Lund, District 3 challenger, said the most important part of an organization is its employees.
Ed Marston, District 3 incumbent, said he had never seen the salary figures in his tenure on the DMEA board, though he thinks he should have seen them. He noted the average figure is "much higher than a city manager or a school superintendent." Marston mused about why there was so much "push back" against calls for the current DMEA management audit.
According to data presented at the candidate forum, DMEA's seven highest paid employees in 2011 were Dan McClendon, Steve Metheny, Bill Mertz, Virginia Allen (now retired), Kent Davenport, Doug Cox and Robert Clark.blog comments powered by Disqus