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2014-11-19 / Opinions

LETTERS

Pay Stegmaier? What about the workers?

I am writing in regards to a story in the Observer, “Pay Jay: Should Newsome make more than Stegmaier?” [Nov. 5]. This article discloses some of the details of Chesterfield County Public Schools Superintendent Marcus Newsome’s four-year contract extension, which he was given last December. “The total annual value of Newsome’s deal, including $40,000 in deferred compensation and a $12,500 automobile allowance, is $273,996,” the story states. County Administrator Jay Stegmaier’s current salary is $256,947, which includes a base salary of $236,947 and $20,000 in deferred compensation.

When asked about the issue of Newsome making more than Stegmaier, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jim Holland told the Observer that the board is evaluating the issue. “My personal belief is that the county administrator should be the highest-paid county employee,” he said. “But we haven’t made a final decision in that regard.” Jim Holland’s response leads the reader to believe that on some level the current board is actually considering bumping Stegmaier’s salary at least $17,000 a year for the sole purpose of making him the highest paid employee.

As a current Chesterfield County employee with 25 years of service to the county and its citizens, I am left shaking my head. How could the Board of Supervisors even begin to consider such an issue? In the last several years, the board has dealt out no raises, or in the case of this current fiscal year, a small 1 percent raise to its workforce. Keep in mind Chesterfield leads the area in employee turnover, which is close to 10 percent a year.

I’m sure both Newsome and Stegmaier are great assets to the county, but the fact remains they are both already highly compensated for their jobs. Together, they have a combined taxpayer paid salary and compensation of $530,943 a year. Keep in mind both men oversee the schools and administration of just one county. The president of the United States only makes $400,000 a year to run the whole country. If Chesterfield officials are wondering why their meals tax was turned down by the voters last November, they need to look no further than stats like this.

I and other county employees are not asking for huge $17,000-a-year increases – we’re not deserving of it – or to be the top paid county employees in the Richmond area. We’re just asking to be treated fairly on the issue of merit increases this spring. Perhaps when the Board of Supervisors is finished in their closed-door meetings pondering the issue of whether or not to come to the aid of their high-level political appointee, the rest of the county workforce, men and women who also show great dedication and leadership to the county and the people they serve, will get a fair shake on the issue of pay. We can only hope.

Ben Lent
Powhatan

Letters can be emailed to letters@localnewsllc.com, mailed to P.O. Box 1616, Midlothian, VA 23113, or faxed to 744-3269. Letters should include the writer’s phone number and home address, but neither will be printed. All letters should be limited to less than 500 words and may be edited for clarity or space. For complete guidelines, visit chesterfieldobserver.com and click on resources, and then letters policy.

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