VA transit commission would allow limitless salaries for executive staff

By Bre Payton | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau

EXPENSIVE SPENDING: The bill allows the new Commission to hire a chief executive and a team of staff members, without any limits on how much they can be paid.

PURCELLVILLE, Va.— Gov. Terry McAuliffe will have the final say on a measure that could saddle Hampton Roads taxpayers with an unlimited tax burden.

The General Assembly approved HB 1253 and its Senate version, SB 513, which would establish a commission of 21 appointed members to oversee transportation projects in the Virginia Tidewater area.

The bill allows the Transportation Accountability Commission to hire a chief executive, without limits on how much he or she would be paid.

Reid Greenmum, member of The Virginia Beach Taxpayer’s Alliance, said the bill is “bad government.”

“The General Assembly was not doing their job, (which is) being good stewards of the taxpayer’s money,” he said.

Placing a line in the bill saying the executive shall not have a higher salary than the average for city managers in the respective region would have worked, Greenmum said.

The CEO can also hire a staff of people. The bill puts no limits on how many staff members can be hired, nor does it limit how much each staff member can earn.

It merely states that they should be hired “as it shall determine to be necessary to carry out its duties and responsibilities.”

The cost of the executive salary and the salaries of the executive’s staff members would fall on taxpayers and come out of the $200 million in new revenue from regional sales and gas taxes approved last year.

The commission can also levy tolls on existing bridges and tunnels, as well as issue bonds to add revenue to the fund.

The only one who can set salary limits and change the text of the bill is McAuliffe, whose approval is needed before the commission is established, which would be July 1.

McAuliffe’s administration supports the bill.

Contact Bre Payton at bpayton@watchdog.org or follow her on Twitter @Bre payton.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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