The board of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System avoided a controversial public vote April 19 on a $20,000 benefits increase for CEO Paul Jablonski.
At the board meeting, copies of a letter from Jablonski were distributed in which the CEO said, “I respectfully decline the benefit adjustments that were proposed and request that they be removed from further consideration.”
MTS board chair Harry Mathis made a brief statement, saying the item had been removed from the agenda. John L. Wood, a retiree from Lemon Grove who regularly attends MTS and city council meetings, was among those who planned to speak against the increase but was denied the opportunity. He told the Reader that Jablonski's decision “is a very good idea. What he makes right now is absurd. It [the increase] was totally unnecessary.”
The board had unanimously approved the benefits boost at a closed meeting March 15. The amendment to Jablonski's executive employment agreement was later put on hold, pending a new vote at an open meeting.
District 3 councilmember Todd Gloria had indicated recently he would probably vote “no” on the benefits increase. Gloria “voted against the last similar increase and was absent for the prior vote this year,” said spokesperson Katie Keach.
Jablonski currently makes $308,173 salary, plus a $46,786 401(a) retirement contribution and a $20,000 CalPERS employee contribution, for total direct compensation of $374,959. His benefits package of $34,063 raises the total 2012 compensation to $409,021.
The board had proposed “a one-time distribution of 100 hours of additional time off,” at $14,916 total. The board also wanted to increase Jablonski's car allowance from $450 a month to $550. The CEO's “medical and technology allowance” would have been increased up to $4,050 for 2012. For funds not used for medical expenses, Jablonski could buy “an iPad, home computer and/or other technology” in 2012.
A March 13 Washington Post story reported that Washington DC Metro's general manager Richard Sarles makes $350,000 a year, but “Metro is the No. 2 rail system in the country. Sarles earned more than his counterpart in New York.”
New York MTA CEO Joseph Lhota makes $332,500 salary, a 5 percent cut from his predecessor's paycheck. MTA is the nation's largest transit agency.
CEO Arthur Leahy of Los Angeles Metro (a larger transit system than San Diego's), is paid a salary of $310,000. Per the Metro website, Leahy's benefits include “deferred compensation and transportation/insurance/living expenses for total employer contribution of 42.5% of salary.” That adds up to $441,750 total compensation.