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The Nose

Executive Privilege

Posted 6/20/2001

Ever since Martin O'Malley moved into the mayor's office, many of those who put him there have been grousing about one particular government expense: his four very well-compensated deputy mayors, whose collective paychecks total nearly $500,000 a year.
Who Does No. 2 Work For?

Salaries for City Hall department heads and their deputies:

›› Comptroller, $80,000; deputy comptroller, $90,600.

›› City auditor, $92,100; two audit managers, $161,000.

›› Retirement-systems administrator, $99,200; deputy administrator, $74,100.

›› Director, Enoch Pratt Free Library, $104,200; assistant director, $79,100.

›› Director of finance, $133,400; deputy director, $120,200.

›› Chief of budget and management research, $99,500; deputy chief, $88,400.

›› Chief of accounting and payroll services, $96,800; deputy chief, $83,300.

›› City purchasing agent, $92,100; assistant purchasing agent, $62,000

›› Fire chief, $128,700; assistant chief, $78,000.

›› Health commissioner, $119,500; deputy commissioner, $94,400;
four assistant commissioners, $350,800.

›› Housing commissioner, $124,600; two deputy commissioners, $195,000.

›› City solicitor, $117,600; deputy solicitor, $107,400.

›› Director of legislative reference, $82,500; deputy director, $74,900.

›› Executive secretary, liquor board, $66,000; deputy secretary, $60,000.

›› Mayor, $125,000; four deputy mayors, $491,800.

›› President/CEO, Baltimore Convention and Visitors Association, $173,250;
three vice presidents, $319,085.

›› Executive director, Office of Promotion, $85,000; deputy director, $66,000.

›› Director, Convention Center, $113,600; deputy director, $90,100.

›› Labor commissioner, $101,700; deputy commissioner, $85,600.

›› Personnel director, $105,000; deputy director, $90,600.

›› Director of planning, $110,300; deputy director, $74,100.

›› Director of public works, $117,122; deputy director, 92,100.

›› Director of recreation and parks, $98,600; two associate directors, $156,700.

›› State's attorney, $114,108; two deputy states' attorneys, $184,500.

Which set the Nose to thinking: If four deputy mayors cost a cool half-mil, what do all the other deputies in city government cost? So we dragged the 2-inch-thick fiscal-year 2002 budget home for some rousing bedtime reading. What we found is either one of the best job scams in town or one place the mayor could save We the People a whole lot of money: the job of the municipal deputy.

The municipal deputy (actual job title may vary) generally makes 10 percent to 15 percent less than his or her six-figure-earning boss and enjoys all manner of similar management perks, not to mention staffs and assistants. Which makes it a mite tricky to determine what exactly a deputy does that a department head does not. Consider the Personnel Department, which has a director who makes $105,000 a year, a deputy director earning $90,600, and an assistant director of personnel services at $79,800, followed by two department chiefs at $69,600 a pop. Then there's the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, whose president/CEO makes city government's highest salary--$173,250--but still requires three vice presidents pulling down a collective $319,000, enough to cover the annual wages of more than a dozen of the security guards and janitors whose jobs will be privatized this winter in the interest of saving the city money.

The Nose isn't suggesting that no city agency requires more than one person to run it. But even so, the overall numbers are a bit breathtaking. Looking just at agency and department seconds-in-command--without even considering the numerous No. 2's in all of, say, the Department of Public Works' various mini-departments and sub-bureaus--we tallied a whopping $3.4 million in salaries budgeted for next year.

Consider that figure in the context of the mayor's chief budgetary goal--figuring out what spending to cut and what taxes to raise in order in order to give more to the cops. It almost covers what hospitals and universities will pay the city next year to head off an energy tax. While we don't have a problem with the Johns Hopkinses of the world anteing up, we couldn't help noticing that the deputy payout--which directly benefits 37 people--isn't far off the $4 million O'Malley hopes to save by laying off 177 low-wage workers over the next several months. Trim a little more bureaucratic fat and maybe the mayor could do away with that extra $10.6 million the taxpayers will now pay thanks to his income-tax spike.

Having perused nearly 700 pages of the budget, to which the City Council will give its final rubber stamp June 21, the Nose has pretty much determined that deputydom is the way to go careerwise--a nice chunk of change and all the management perks without that nasty public accountability occasionally demanded of department heads. Personally, we're angling for deputy comptroller--how often do you get a chance to make more than your boss?

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