MTA CEO and Executive Director Lee Sander’s efforts to overhaul MTA management wrapped up this week when 37-year-old agency vet and MTA Bus President Thomas Savage retired.
Savage’s retirement came just a little over a week and a half after the MTA announced an extensive overhaul of the management at their bus company holdings. As with all things MTA, however, it is not without controversy. Pete Donohue, transit beat writer at the Daily News, notes that Savage will get a full year’s salary despite voluntarily stepping down:
The cash-strapped MTA will pay a former top-level executive $200,000 to do nothing.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority veteran Thomas Savage will receive a full year’s salary as if he was still reporting to work as president of the MTA Bus Co. – even though he stepped down from the executive post last month, the authority said.
Spokesman Jeremy Soffin described the $200,000 as a necessary cost of a larger initiative to consolidate management positions, which the authority expects to lead to financial savings down the road. Savage retired despite having one year left on his multiyear contract, Soffin said.
Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign had kind words for Savage and the MTA’s efforts to streamline operations – but said he believed the MTA is “too generous” when crafting packages for executives.
Savage, for his part, wouldn’t talk about the deal. His only comment to Donohue was to note that it wasn’t a buyout. Of course, when someone leaves his job — and isn’t the first MTA division head to do so under the new CEO — and is paid a full year’s salary for not working, well, you know what they say: If it smells like buyout and quacks like a buyout…
Under the new leadership structure, the MTA stands to save upwards of $150,000 annually. While that figure is small beans compared to the billions the MTA needs for its various capital projects, Savage’s departure and the bus consolidation is another sign that Sander has a set plan in place for streamlining the MTA’s bureaucracy. Overly generous buyout or not, it’s tough to argue with that.