Wednesday, April 14, 2010

County Executive's Office: MCGEO Salary Study "Wholly Riddled with Factual Errors"

County Executive spokesman Patrick Lacefield has responded to MCGEO's comparative study of management salaries, saying that it is "wholly riddled with factual errors." We carry his response below.


The purported MCGEO study comparing directors pay in the region is wholly riddled with factual errors.

Over the years Montgomery County government has always sought to recruit and retain the best individuals to manage the needs of a large, complex, and growing County. The current management salaries are consistent with a trend established by the County at least a dozen years ago.

The most telling comparison with Montgomery is Fairfax.

The salary numbers for Fairfax County, easily the closest comparison with Montgomery County, are almost totally wrong in the MCGEO study.

MCGEO says that the Fairfax Police Chief and Fire Chief are paid $105,800; they are actually paid $176,366. The Fairfax Finance Director is paid $152,356, not MCGEO’s $100,800. The Fairfax Human Resources Director is paid $152,296, not MCGEO’s $100,800. The Fairfax Budget Director is paid $166,116, not MCGEO’s $100,800. The Fairfax Information Systems Director is paid $174,389, not MCGEO’s $105,800. The Fairfax Library Director is paid $165,403, not MCGEO’s $100,800. This info comes straight from Fairfax County. And on it goes…

In fact, the study is full of errors – top to bottom. Prince George’s Police Chief makes $180,000, not MCGEO’s $98,000. Arlington’s Police Chief makes $163,000, not MCGEO’s $62,000. Arlington’s Information Services director makes $147,000, not MCGEO’s $62,000. Montgomery County’s Fire Chief makes $190,000, not MCGEO’s $211,000.

These mistakes –and many more – are available to view in the annual 2010 Local Government Personnel Association Benchmark Salary Survey, which carefully compares salaries in the region.

Take a look at the difference between what the Fairfax and Montgomery Chief Administrative Officers are actually paid and the difference is only 14 percent. Chief of Police difference: 22 percent. Fire Chief: 14 percent. County Attorney: 2 percent. Library Director: 7 percent.

These are differences, but nothing approaching the differences alleged by the flawed study.

Other things to keep in mind:

• Many department directors in other jurisdictions enjoy tenure or merit protection. Montgomery County directors do not enjoy job security – they serve at the will of the County Executive;

• Recently appointed directors in Montgomery County are in the defined contribution pension plan. Nearly all other directors in the region are in defined benefit plans – which are 50 percent or more more generous;

• Differences in job titles and responsibilities can make exact comparisons shaky;

• Pay may vary depending on years on the job. Someone with many years of experience as a director may be paid significantly more than someone starting as a director;

• Nearly all of the jurisdictions used for comparison are less populated than Montgomery County, most significantly smaller; and

• All Montgomery County department directors and the County Executive will be furloughed the same amount of days as other employees.

The County Executive is open to analyzing possible savings from whatever source. Any such savings, however, should be applied to closing the increasing revenue gap – not to substitute for other recommended reductions or add new spending into the budget.

We need the recommended reductions already on the table and increased savings from other sources to close the $168 million in tax revenue shortfalls for FY10 and FY11 that have developed since March 15.

Patrick Lacefield
Montgomery County Office of Public Information

P.S. In answering Adam’s entry, of 21 directors appointed by County Executive Leggett in 2006 and 2007, 12 were hired at the same salary paid by County Executive Duncan, three were paid more, and six were paid less.