According to the Albuquerque Journal, Governor Richardson has 760 "exempt" employees - over 500 in the executive branch alone. Richardson's exempts became one of the popular targets of legislators in the recent emergency session.
There are 760 exempt employees in New Mexico government — about 500 in executive branch agencies — and the number has risen sharply during Richardson's two terms in office.One of the fun things about a transition of power is the transition shakes things up and tends to expose a few things that have been heretofore almost impossible find out. Once such thing is a complete list of all of the city's unclassified employees and how much they make - a list that fell smack dab into the lap of one of our Eyes.
“The growth in exempt positions has been significant,” Cote said.
A similar proposal has also been introduced by Sen. John Ryan, R-Albuquerque.
Some legislators have criticized the growth in government spending under the Richardson administration — about 40 percent in the past six years — and the growth in exempt employee numbers in particular.
The city of Albuquerque has 1427 "exempt" - or as the city calls them - "unclassified" employees. Understand that a large number of these unclassified positions are part-time or seasonal and pay between $7.50 and $19 per hour. But there are 124 full-time positions in Marty's unclassified world that earn more than $50,000 a year that's over $15,000 more than the state's median income for a single wage earner (view it here).
Combined those top 124 unclassified positions cost us $5,098.21 an hour, $203,928.40 a week, and $10,604, 276 a year. If you thought the mayor was the top dog, you'd be wrong. The top three unclassified wage earners are CAO Ed Adams, Fire Chief Robert Ortega, and Chief of Police Ray Schultz at $147,742, $140,733 and $140, 733 respectively.
The mayor's pay - previously set by the council and soon by some "independent" committee - makes a paltry $109,325 and only ranks 14th on the unclassified pay scale. Councilors by contrast, are at the bottom of the 1400 plus list earning a meager $5.26 an hour (based on a 40 hour week).
There are currently 6 director's positions that are either vacant (like Jay Evans who skedaddled back to Open Space and reportedly took his director's pay with him) or have "acting" directors whose pay won't show up on the unclassified list. Included in the list is soon to be former Transit Director Greg Payne whose salary and job will continue until November 30th.
You may be wondering why all of this matters. It's not really surprising that Marty's Minions were making shall we say... healthy salaries. They certainly were and in some cases the job justifies their pay. In other cases such as a position like say... director of senior affairs (a job Marty's paying $107,910 for) is really hard to justify. Do you really want your senior affairs person making more than your economic development person, your HR manager, or the director of finances?
The more one analyzes the list of unclassified employees, the more you begin to see Marty's pattern of rewards for loyalty. Pay and responsibility often have nothing to do with one another.
Let's face it - there are some positions that will simply go unfilled if the pay isn't adequate. Take the city attorney's office for example. A good attorney can make upwards of $150 an hour. You can't just pay $35k a year and expect to fill the position - at least not with a competent attorney.
The point here is that Mayor-Elect Berry has an opportunity to save the city money by removing unnecessary positions and adjusting pay of necessary positions to more accurately reflect the position's responsibility.
A new mayor should have the opportunity to surround himself with people they trust and people that they feel are best qualified for needed city positions. After all, the mayor should and will be judged not only by his performance but the performance of those he surrounds himself with .
Mayor Berry has the opportunity to make some real structural changes to his unclassified list that will make government more transparent, more efficient, and save all of us money at a time when money is hard to come by.