Golden Government Parachutes

13 Nov

One of the biggest rip-offs to taxpayers is when public officials who resign (usually under duress) or are fired walk out the door with big severance checks. How often do people like you or me get a sweet deal when we leave our jobs?

Back in July, Arnold City Administrator Matt Unrein quit and left with a $69,000 farewell gift, about 70% of his annual salary. Had he held out and made the city fire him, he would have gotten $200,000, according to his contract.

On Halloween, the Chief of Police in Herculaneum, Chris Pigg (great cop name) resigned, effective immediately. He got a mere $37,495, which amounts to just over half his salary. This was as laid out in his employment contract. (Side note: Pigg floated the idea of installing those insidious speed cameras on the stretches of I-55 and US Hwy 61/67 that goes through his city in 2010.)

To complete the trifecta, De Soto School District Superintendent Andy Arbeitman, who “mutually agreed to separate” with the district under questionable circumstances, is leaving town with $208,000. This amounts to about 133% of his $154, 438 salary, which makes him today’s winner. This agreement appears to have been negotiated during his five months on administrative leave (also paid). Arbeitman also got the district to agree not to discuss the reasons behind his dismissal, so his next employer  will be forced to gamble if they decide to hire him.

If we are going to stop this abuse, steps have to be taken at the time these people are hired. We need to press our elected representatives to omit these golden parachute provisions from employment contracts. If job applicants balk at this, they can go work somewhere else. Small-town police chiefs, city administrators, and superintendents are not scarce commodities. Our leaders need to stand up for taxpayers and not reward their failed employees with big goodbye bonuses.

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2 Responses to “Golden Government Parachutes”

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  1. Law Enforcement Cesspool in Byrnes Mill « Jefferson County Penknife - November 14, 2012

    […] resign for another job, and that the city fired him to save money on severance. All he got for a severance package was $3,925 for unused vacation – good on the city for not giving him more than […]

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  2. Telling Exchange in Arnold « Jefferson County Penknife - November 28, 2012

    […] It’s also interesting to see how things can go wrong when the city dishes out money for development projects. This is a little reminiscent of what happened back on July, when the city found out, hey, we have to pay $200,000 for a sewer line upgrade at the Anheuser-Busch can plant, after agreeing to subsidies for the plant’s expansion in February. From the linked article, it even seems like Unrein might have known about this expense, too, for some time without telling the council. In the end, he might be costing the city more than just his big severance. […]

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