12 Investigates: Full salaries exposed in your local leaders

Published: Jul. 7, 2015 at 9:41 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 8, 2015 at 4:35 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Every year, pay raises for employees in city and county government always seem to be a battle at budget time. But did you now that many of the top officials making those decisions actually get extra money each year, on top of their six-figure salaries?

We dug through the offer letters and contracts of some of the top dogs around central Virginia. We even pulled databases; it's all public record, which means you have a right to know. So we're going to share it with you.

Richmond recently hired a new Chief Administrative Officer, the top position at City Hall. It's Selena Cuffee Glenn's job to basically run the city's day-to-day. And she's pulling in $203,000 a year.

But in her contract with the city, she also gets $15,000 each year in what's known as "deferred compensation."  That's an extra earnings -- almost like a 401K -- pretax contributions that are paid out at a later date.

At least 17 employees down at City Hall get this extra benefit. All of them are top level executives, including Mayor Dwight Jones. He picks up $23,000 a year on top of his $125,000 salary. Police Chief Alfred Durham is paid $165,000, but also gets an extra $7,000 a year in deferred compensation.

"It's a good deal for them, and it's a good deal for the government to be able to offer them that incentive," says Jim Gibson, an expert in contracts and a law professor at the University of Richmond.

He says these days, extra payouts are pretty common in city and county government.

"Salaries in the public sector probably tend to be a little bit lower than you tend to see with the executives in the private sector. So I think this is probably one way of closing that gap a little."


In Chesterfield County, Administrator James Stegmaier makes $236,000, but also pulls in $20,500 a year in deferred compensation. So do four other employees with the county, including the police and fire chiefs. They each get $10,000 a year.

In Henrico County, only one government employee gets this extra money each year: County Administrator John Vithoulkas. He pulls in $17,500 annually on top of his salary for a total of $254,725.

The largest amount of deferred compensation we've come across is not in local government, but at VCU. According to University president Michael Rao's contract, he is paid $503,000 each year, but he also gets $191,500 in deferred compensation every year he's with the university.

All of this money is negotiated at the time of the contracts. Cities and counties say this is a perk they can offer to get good employees and compete against these private sector, higher paying jobs.

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