While the MTA is crying poverty and threatening fare hikes and service cutbacks, the Authority is also doling out raises to its executives. According to a report in the Daily News, MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger has authorized what Pete Donohue termed “a $10,000 boost” to CEO Elliot “Lee” Sander’s compensation package.
Hemmerdinger attempting to defend the move, noting that Sander’s $340,000 annual salary is low. “I approved a 3% increase for the executive director/CEO, equal to increases earned by the management that reports to him. Lee is still paid less than the heads of smaller transit agencies in Washington and Los Angeles, and far less than what he would earn in the private sector,” he said in a statement.
The reality of the situation is that $10,000 isn’t going to make or break an agency looking at annual deficits of hundreds of millions of dollars, and Sander has done an excellent job looking to the MTA’s future while negotiating the tough financial constraints of the present. But at a time when the authority is practically begging for a money, a high-profile raise no matter how small isn’t the right message to send to the fare-paying public or the legislatures holding the purse strings.