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The Compassion of the Arlington County Board

The year-to-year "municipal cost index" computed by American City & County magazine grew over the past year by 1.6%.

But the masterminds on the  Arlington County Board thought the performance of their three appointees -- the County Manager, County Attorney, and County Clerk -- deserved more, according to a story in last Thursday's Washington Post. According to the story, reported by Patricia Sullivan:

"Three top Arlington County employees were awarded raises of 5 percent and 10 percent, pushing their compensation to the second-highest among Northern Virginia jurisdictions.

"County Manager Barbara Donnellan will make $252,918 this year. County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac will make $211,341 with $30,218 in deferred compensation. Both received 5 percent ­raises.

"County Clerk Hope Halleck received a 10 percent raise, to $102,895 from $93,541."

The story gets worse, however. Sullivan writes:

"The Arlington County Board unanimously and without comment approved the raises in the last 45 seconds of an abbreviated meeting Tuesday night. Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada (D) announced a vote on amendments to the officials’ employment contracts but did not spell out what those amendments were. The documents were made public Wednesday after a Washington Post inquiry." (emphasis added)

If you think the story can't get worse, you'd be wrong. Sullivan also reports, "The salaries were set after officials conducted a comparison with pay rates in Fairfax and Prince William counties and the city of Alexandria," but notes that "Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, after evaluating its executives, decided not to give any raises to its top officials 'because of fiscal conditions.'"

There's more, though. As we growled on November 17, 2012, the county is expecting a budget shortfall of $50 million, divided roughly half-and-half between the county and schools.

Sullivan provides salaries for the three positions in Arlington's Northern Virginia neighbors. The Arlington salaries are within the 'same ballpark," but recall the difference in populations. And for the record, the County Manager's and the County Attorney's salaries exceed the federal executive schedule salaries (Schedule 5).

But then, perhaps this is all explained by their being masterminds, and we aren't.


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