Larry Van Guilder has an article this week that takes a look at the taxpayer-funded entity, The Development Corporation, and asks the question - why does this entity have so much money when Knox County is in debt about $700 million, schools are underfunded and space in local industrial parks is going begging? Does the Development Corporation deserve this level of funding given their poor history of results? Are their giant salaries justified?
The two highest paid executives at TDC are Todd Napier, executive vice president, and Robin Holt, director of finance and administration. Both received substantial pay increases in 2008. Napier’s salary rose to $144,519, a $49,000 hike. Holt earned $90,818 in 2008, approximately $24,000 more than in the previous year.
Nonetheless, with the recession continuing to erode local government revenue, many taxpayers might look askance at not only the healthy pay hikes, but the $31 million in assets under TDC’s control. That’s a sum which could easily finance one or two new schools in Knox County, and one could argue that without a solid educational system, a community’s chance of recruiting new industry drops dramatically.
Van Guilder doesn't mention the big cheese's big salary - because it's technically not paid by the Development Corporation, it's paid by the Knoxville Chamber (wink, wink). As of 2007, the latest timeframe for which figures are available, the partially-taxpayer funded Knoxville Chamber pays Dev Corp CEO Mike Edwards well north of $270,000, Randy Vineyard over $163,000 and Rhonda Rice $175,000, including benefits. I'm sure they got fat raises in 2008 as well.
Good gig if you can get it. Especially during a recession and especially if you are accountable to basically no one. What kind of return are we getting for these huge salaries? Is it time to dissolve the Development Corporation?
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