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Budget Crisis?

A Houston Budget Crisis! Are We There Yet?

Business PhotoThere are many preemptive budget issues for Houston in the next budget cycle. Currently our entire country is engulfed in financial crises.  Various cities around the country are experiencing economic hard times and are desperately finding ways to survive. The city of Houston is no exception to the budget crisis.

On May 16, 2010, the Houston Chronicle reported that the City of Houston is facing about 140 million dollars shortfall. Recently, the local television stations are talking about the possible lay off and furlough of the city employees.  And most recently, following the red light camera vote, the Houston Chronicle again pictured a distressed city council over an estimated $542 million budget shortfall for fiscal 2012 through fiscal 2015.

As concerned citizens, we thought it would be a great public service if we could help our City pull through her financial problems.  The question is how and what could be done to help balance the next City budgets?

Obviously we do not want the main working force to get the axe, nor city services reduced. It is plainly imperative that the administration should immediately audit each and every department to get a better picture of services they provide to communities and the needed workforce and their salaries -- the so called simple ‘Bang for the Buck’ analysis.

Our mayor seems to be concerned and well aware of the Houston’s budget shortfall and trying to fix it. That’s good! As concerned citizens and tax payers, we are determined to help our city; and we have gathered information on several City departments. Our strategy is simple: One department at a time!  We ranked each city department based on the budget allocation and workforce team, respectively. The Public Works and Engineering Department topped the ranking list and we started concentrating in the following areas:

  1. Expenditures
  2. Numbers of staff
  3. High salaries

The investigation revealed that part of the financial problem the city is experiencing is from the expenditure on numerous high-ranking employees’ salaries. Please note that although the list of high salaried employees we obtained and presented bellow may not be exhaustive nor the latest, it suffices for the relevant information intended. 

     

City of Houston Public Works & Engineering:

Employee Salaries at a Glance

Salary Range in $1000 -- see side Bar Chart (top bar numbers = number of employees in same salary range)

Highest Salary $190,000+

Lowest Salary $20,880

Median Salary $36,293

 

Top Level Employee Salaries in View

Name

Title

Salary

Daniel W. Kroeger

Public Works Director

$190,000+

Eric Dargan

Deputy Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$151.786

Susan Bandy

Deputy Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$144,890

Jun Chang

Deputy Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$141,653

Andrew Icken

Deputy Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$139,620

Daniel Menendez

Deputy Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$139,585

Jeffrey Weatherford

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$126,914

Waynette Chan

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$123,960

Almer Millage

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$123,675

Arthur Kidder

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$122,821

Dannelle Belhateche

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$122,721

James Lincoln

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$122,254

Ogilvie Gericke

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$122,140

Viveca Sonberg

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$121,960

John Whaley

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$121.665

Mark Loethen

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$120.462

Hamlet Hovsepian

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$119,027

Nancy Collins

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$118,811

Carol Haddock

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$116,893

Yvonne Forrest

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$116,600

Karen Leback

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$116,032

Christon Butler

Executive Staff Analyst –Public Works

$115,805

Carl Bowker

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$114,482

Tracy Wingate

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$114.275

Willie Horton

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$112,686

Shiou-Huey Chang

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$112,508

David Guernsey

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$111,204

Heichung Huo

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$109,933

Robert Stigers

Info System Administrator (Executive Level)

109,595

Ravishankar Kaleyatodi

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$108,519

Bruce Kao

Managing Engineer

$108,349

Ebraham Nassiri

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$107,782

Carl Smitha

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$107,201

New promotion replacing Harish Jajoo

Managing Engineer

106,871

Sheila Blake

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$105,787

Jigsa Ereti

Assistant Director –Public Works (Executive Level)

$105,404

Gurdip Hyare

Managing Engineer

$105,063

Mohammad M Pezeshki

Supervising Engineer

$103,114

Frank Simoneaux

Managing Engineer

$102,522

Ali Khairandish

Managing Engineer

$101,640

David Tajadod

Managing Engineer

$101,640

Tommy Mcclung

Deputy Assistant Director (Executive Level)

$101,389

Joe Smith

Managing Engineer

$101,373

Joanne Kamman

Managing Engineer

$101,373

Zaki Ahmad

Supervising Engineer

$100,630

Mohammad Sabzevari

Supervising Engineer

$100,296

Allen Largent

Assistant Director (Executive Level)

$100,178

Thomas Artz

Managing Engineer

$100,144

Ronald Masek

Managing Engineer

$99,924

Sonny Do

Managing Engineer

$99,419

Sik Fung

Managing Engineer

$99,419

John Keyes

Supervising Engineer

$99,316

Jason Iken

Managing Engineer

$98,727

Yong Wang

Managing Engineer

$98,588

Iraj Mahvash

Managing Engineer

$98,582

Sandeep Aggarwal

Managing Engineer

$98,582

Nicholas Toparcean

Info Systems Administrator (Executive Level)

$98,556

Nabil Zod

Managing Engineer

$98,423

Source: Houston Public Works and Engineering

The Public Works and Engineering department employs engineers and non engineers. The department consists of a Director, Deputy Directors, Assistant Directors, Deputy Assistant Directors, Managing Engineers, Project Managers, Supervising Engineers, Engineers, Graduate Engineers and other non-engineering employees.

From the source list we picked THREE top salaried positions and analyzed them to see how much the City can save without as many of these following employee positions as they presently exist:

  1. DEPUTY DIRECTORS

  2. ASSISTANT DIRECTORS

  3. MANAGING ENGINEERS

 

Questions!

SIX DEPUTY DIRECTORS?

Why does one city department need 6 Deputy Directors?  With salary ranges from $139,000 to $151,000, SIX DDs are costing the city about $870,000+ per annum.  If we add the Director’s salary, the amount easily exceeds 1 million dollars per year.

TWENTY-EIGHT ASSISTANT DIRECTORS?

Why does the department need 28 assistant directors?  With salary ranges from $100,000 to $126,000 TWENTY-EIGHT ADs are costing us about $ 3,500.000+ per annum.

TWENTY-ONE MANAGING ENGINEERS?

Why does the public works department need 21 managing engineers?  With salary ranges from $98,423 to $108,349 TWENTY-ONE MEs are costing the city about $2, 035,340+ per budget year.

Cumulatively, therefore, the beast of the annual burden on the City is $6,376,266+. There would definitely be a huge net saving if an executive decision were made to reduce budget bite from these multiple redundant employee positions.  

++ Actual dollar amounts exceed the numbers quoted because of continuing hirings and promotions among these groups of city employees.

Suggestion!

Holding the general work force up to a duty of reasonable competence, eliminate a good number of  the above mentioned top-earning possitions. The city services and other on-going projects would not be affected nor will they get delayed. A good hard working director can make a significant difference by prunning the bushy tree tops and improving upon active employee performance.  AUDIT THIS DEPARTMENT IMMEDIATELY for a better picture!  It simply does not make much management and financial common sense that one City department has 6 Deputy Directors, 28 Assistant Directors and 21 Managing Engineers and counting, all but 8 of them earning over $100,000 per year.

Solution!

1.)  Drastically reduce the number of Deputy and Assistant Directors and save a bundle of taxpayer dollars.

2.) Totally eliminate Managing Engineer positions and save another bundle of taxpayer dollars. 

 You do the math.

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