Steve O’Malley’s Contract

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This weekend, I wrote about the salary of La Crosse County Administrator Steve O’Malley, whom I described as the most overpaid bureaucrat in the state with a salary of more than $180,000 per year. In this post, I’ll make my own (tongue-in-cheek) case to be hired as County Administrator at a rate of $40,000 per year.

I obtained O’Malley’s contract and re-posted it here; it also includes a resolution re-authorizing the contract through Dec. 31, 2019.

The contract provides for the following highlights:

  • A step 4 base salary of $180,245. As noted, I’ll do the job for less than one-quarter that.
  • A $200/month car allowance. My car payment is less than this, but I’ll just pocket the difference.
  • Professional development opportunities (nothing extravagant here, except for the fact that in the past such opportunities included a free Masters degree). I have a bachelor’s in Business Management, but I would be eager to obtain a free master’s degree in public administration.
  • Generous vacation, personal leave, and sick leave days. I’d take half – mathematically, even that is infinitely more than I have now.
  • A $3,000 quarterly “retention” bonus paid simply for not quitting, which is increased by $1,000 each year of the contract. In essence, Steve will be paid an additional $12,000 in bonuses the first year and $16,000 in 2019 for NOT QUITTING HIS JOB or being fired. I’ll keep the bonus – daddy needs a new transmission in his Jetta.
  • O’Malley is required to join, at his own expense, one local civic club or organization. I’ve already served on a number of local boards, executive committees, and organizations.
  • He gets an office and a secretary. Can’t really criticize that.
  • Six months’ salary plus extended benefits should he be terminated; the definition of “Termination” includes “A decision by the County Board to make substantial changes in the authority of the position, or reduce the Administrator’s compensation.” Any effort to cut the position’s pay constitutes termination? I’d take that kind of deal in a second.

An interesting passage in the contract that will be the subject of further commentary is a provision of the contract that says, “The County Administrator agrees to and shall be required to use his best efforts at all times to coordinate, streamline and make efficient County operations.”

A streamlined, more efficient government implies less spending and lower taxes. Taxes have not gone down in La Crosse County since O’Malley was hired, to use whatever is the opposite of hyperbole.

The County Board votes on the contract changes tomorrow night.

PS – Having taken a class in negotiation, I know everything there is to know about negotiation. With that in mind, I’m changing my bargaining position to $60,000. There’s obviously fertile ground here for robbing the shop.

About the writer: Chris Rochester is editor in chief of Morning Martini. He’s a communication specialist with experience in the private sector and on various campaigns. He's the communications director for the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy. Commentary here is strictly his own.