NBC12 INVESTIGATION: Top city salaries add up to almost $1M - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

NBC12 INVESTIGATION: Top city salaries add up to almost $1M


NBC12 is looking into who are the highest paid Richmond city employees and what exactly they get paid to do.

Richmond's mayor gets paid $125,000 a year. You might think Dwight Jones, the man elected by the people to lead the city, would be its highest paid employee. We've uncovered of the top executives running Richmond, Mayor Jones actually gets paid the least, with members of his administration in some cases, making $50,000 more than he does.

If you equate city government to a corporation, Richmond's Chief Administrative Officer would be a company's COO. You've probably seen Byron Marshall on TV before explaining the mayor's initiatives or defending the administration's position on a certain issue.  To do that job, Marshall makes $181,560.

Add up the salaries of the deputies below him, and you've got almost a million dollars of your money.

Sharon Judkins, the Deputy CAO for Finance and Administration, was touted as having more than 25 years of experience when she came to the city. In recent months, she's been under fire for issues implementing new crucial city software. Judkins is paid more than $166,260.

Chris Beschler oversees public works, utilities and facilities in the city. His departments deal with your gas, water and wastewater services and fees. He makes 165,846.80.

DCAO Peter Chapman gets paid $163,200. You've seen us talk to Chapman about community and economic development.

Steve Harms got paid the least of all the deputy chief administrative officers. He was the last person to oversee Human Services and was brought in to help clean up the scandal-plagued department of social services. He made $160,000.

Add all of that up and you've got $836,866 in salaries alone. That doesn't include benefits.

"Let's be frank about it: it's exorbitant when you look at what has to be done," said government watchdog Paul Goldman, who went over the list with us.

Goldman does admit, in some senses a competitive salary for someone like Byron Marshall allows Richmond to get top candidates for the jobs.

That's the reason the mayor's office says Marshall's salary is at that level. Press Secretary Tammy Hawley explained, "Significant salary disparities can often lead to revolving doors which would not be good for the city."

It was also the case when the school board hired the new school superintendent to turn around the failing district. Dr. Dana Bedden makes $225,000 a year.

But, Goldman believes with a poverty level like Richmond's there are better ways to spend your tax dollars when it comes to the other top-level employees.

"You could cut half of all the top people, you wouldn't miss a beat in terms of delivery of services," he maintained. "And either you could save the taxpayers all that money or reward people that actually do something."

We asked Marshall's office for a comment on our story, but he has not responded yet.

The city auditor, who in some ways is also a government watchdog, gets paid less than any of those people. Umesh Dalal's annual salary is of just over $140,000.

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

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