Wednesday, May 7, 2008

NES president tops Metro pay chart again

By MICHAEL CASS • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • May 7, 2008 While the Metro government prepares to lay off 200 people, another 200 sit at the top of the city's salary heap, each of them pulling in a six-figure salary. The list of Metro's best-paid employees is again led by Decosta Jenkins, president and CEO of Nashville Electric Service, the city's power utility. Jenkins is making more than $257,000 this year, according to data compiled by Metro Human Resources. But Raul Regalado, president of the Nashville Airport Authority, could make more than Jenkins if he meets performance goals. Regalado makes $232,000 but could earn a 20 percent bonus for an additional $46,400, said airport spokeswoman Emily Richard, who noted that Regalado's pay comes from airport revenues, not property tax dollars. Jenkins and other NES employees aren't eligible for bonuses. However, 49 of them are among the city's 200 best paid, including three of the top four and six of the top 10. No other Metro department or agency has more than 13 employees on the list. NES is run by an appointed board that doesn't answer to the mayor or Metro Council and doesn't receive tax dollars to pay its employees. Leo Waters, chairman of the NES board and a former councilman, said the salaries are often necessary to attract good people. "Compared to Metro government, the salaries are high," Waters said. "But most of those folks have very technical, specialized skills, and some of them have been there a long time." Waters also called Jenkins, NES's day-to-day leader since 2004, "one of the better administrators you'll find anywhere." Each of the 200 employees in the elite group makes at least $101,749. Two years ago, 160 employees made at least $100,000, and the lowest salary on the top-200 list was $95,971. There are more than 10,000 employees in Metro's central government. When NES, the airport, schools and several other agencies are included, the work force jumps to about 22,000. The salary list also shows that the mayor's salary doesn't go as far as it used to. Former Mayor Bill Purcell ranked 26th on the pay scale in 2006; his successor, Mayor Karl Dean, ranks 43rd. The mayor's salary is fixed by Metro statute at $136,500. Dean's deputy mayor, finance director and law director all make more, and Dean made more when he was Purcell's law director, earning $143,190 in 2006.

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