The Sacramento Regional Transit board voted Monday evening to trim outgoing General Manager Mike Wiley’s generous retirement deal, as well it should have.
The six-figure savings under the revised agreement isn’t a ton of money in the larger picture. But it’s important for the board to show it gets the symbolism, given RT’s money troubles.
Otherwise, it looked really bad, since the agency recently let go 20 management and administrative employees and will increase fares on Friday.
Under Wiley’s previous, too-generous exit package, he was going to be on the payroll through the end of the year at his full salary as special assistant to new General Manager Henry Li, who takes over Friday. Then until next November, Wiley could have been under a personal services contract, billing hourly at his old salary and capped at $50,000 total.
Under the new deal – which Wiley was right to offer – he will fully retire on Aug. 1, saving Regional Transit about $135,000 in 2016-17.
By reducing his lifetime pay, the change will also reduce Wiley’s supplemental retirement benefit – on top of a $210,000 annual pension and paid out of RT’s general fund – by $6,730 a year.
Also under the new deal, Wiley’s personal services contract will be limited to $25,000 with no guarantee that he will get any billable hours at all. Any work he does as chairman of the California Transit Association – a key justification for the contract – wouldn’t be billed unless it exclusively benefits RT.
The revised agreement won’t be enough to satisfy union leaders and other critics. But it may lessen the distraction from Wiley’s deal for at least some voters who hold RT’s financial fate in their hands.
RT desperately needs the lifeline from Measure B, the half-cent sales tax increase for transportation on the November ballot that would give the agency more than $950 million over 30 years.
Now, RT must focus on improving service. It has a lot of work ahead to earn voters’ trust and confidence.