Tolling Exec pulls $10,000 bonus in down economy

While the average Texan is thankful to have a paycheck, even if it’s a shrinking one, the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (ARMA) has been living large getting across the board 5% pay increases (FY 2008-2009, with another 5% budgeted for merit increases that were never paid out), and the Executive Director, Terry Brechtel, raking in an additional $10,000 performance bonus, paid to her in June. Performance bonus? Perhaps they mean her performance as a master in obfuscating and misleading the public on its toll plans? (Watch it on You Tube here).

Considering the Bexar County Commissioners were grilling county agencies at Commissioners Court Tuesday over 2% pay hikes in this down economy, it begs the question why a county-appointed tolling authority, the ARMA, is getting off scot-free without a whisper of scrutiny or without challenge to such lavish luxuries when so many in the community are economically hurting.

Considering the ARMA has NOTHING to show for itself, not one road open to traffic after five years in existence, their proposed 5% “merit” increases (budgeted in FY 2008-2009, but were never actually paid out) certainly wouldn’t square with actual performance. Even its 5% cost of living pay increase (FY 2008-2009) is more than most Texans will see in their paychecks this year or next.

In fact, a dozen citizens asked the county commissioner to dissolve the ARMA altogether Tuesday. Three commissioners have already floated the idea of closing the ARMA earlier this year. Yet at today’s ARMA Board meeting, the Board approved the $1.2 million in salaries for the small staff. Though next year’s salaries will not increase, out of eight employees, only two make less than $100,000 a year. Considering the median household income in San Antonio is only $36,000, it shows just how out of step this agency is with the plight of the ordinary citizens it’s anxious to tax to get to work.

Greed and the proverbial “gravy train” motivate the ARMA to continue its gratuitous spending, dishonesty, and intransigence in pushing toll roads on an angry public that rejects tolling existing freeways.

In yesterday’s Washington Times article about executive pay being out of step with main street America, Nell Minow of the Corporate Library, said “the continued big earnings and pay at bailed-out banks is feeding a sense of injustice and outrage among ordinary citizens who are feeling the brunt of the financial crisis. Pay that is out of whack with performance … is a symptom of bad corporate governance, bad economic judgment, but it’s also the disease.”

The same can be said of this government agency. They’ve adopted the worst of corporate America’s bail-out indulgences with government inefficiency and exploitation of the taxpayers who pay the bills.

Enough is enough! It’s high time the County Commissioners put a stop to such abuse and extravagance. Dissolve the ARMA, now!

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