Monday, July 24, 2006

Tom Ellis Goes on Montco Payroll

When Montgomery County commissioner Tom Ellis was elected in 2004, a fuss was made over him taking just $1.00 as his annual salary (Source: "Commissioner says he'll do job for $1 a year," by Jeff Shields, Philadelphia Inquirer, January 16, 2004):

Ellis said he would continue to work for $1 unless his partners changed their minds about his full-partner status. He estimated that he would be able to devote only about one-fifth of his work time to his law practice.

Almost on cue, the Board of Commissioners made up for Ellis' savings by establishing an administrator position. Commissioners voted to hire Gregory A. Honeyman, a retail consultant and former executive with Genuardi's Family Markets, as deputy chief operating officer with a salary of $57,811.

Honeyman is also a high school classmate and longtime friend of James Matthews,' chairman of the Board of Commissioners. Matthews said yesterday that the position, which was eliminated four years ago under former Chairman Mike Marino, was needed to help oversee county departments.

Things have apparently changed. From the Intelligencer ("Montco approves half-salary for commissioner," By Jodi Spiegel Arthur, July 21, 2006.

The county salary board, which includes Ellis and the two other commissioners, voted Thursday to allow the commissioner chairman to take half of his $82,000 annual salary because he is spending more time doing county work and less time as a lawyer in private practice.

Since taking office in 2004, he has only received $1 a year by the county because it was his decision to only accept that amount for his commissioner work.

But now, Ellis said he spends 10 hours a week or less working for Philadelphia law firm Ballard Spahr Andrews and Ingersoll, where he is a partner in the finance department.

from the same article:

Ellis will take home $20,500 in county pay for the last six months of 2006 and $41,000 for all of 2007. He would not say how much he earns from the law firm.

“The firm continues to pay me a nice compensation (but) they're not able to continue where I was before,” he said.

Of the other two Montco commissioners, Ruth Damsker does not have an outside job. Jim Matthews does. He is also running for lt. gov. on the Republican ticket. Two things came to mind when I read about Ellis's decision to take a partial county salary. One is that two of the three commissioners don't think an $82,000 a year job should be able to command their full attention (note: the other two receive slightly less, $79,144; Ellis is the chairman and so receives a little more. The other is to wonder if the guy whose job was being funded by the money Ellis didn't take is still on the county payroll and if so, where the money for his job is coming from.

I read these things and just shake my head.


Anonymous said...


What you have failed to include in your statement is the financial improvements that Ellis has made while acting in his role as Commissioner. His expertise and skill in financial matters has saved the county a bundle of $$. So, as a taxpayer I am happy to pay him a salary. Often in government, you are unable to attract the best and brightest due to the low salary. If payinghim even half salary results in a net gain for the county that is fine with me.

Anonymous said...

Jane, as a fellow taxpayer, could you give just one example of this that I could not contest?

-I'm the guy who's job is now gone.....

Anonymous said...

(Sorry Jane- I appreciate this blog as a former county emplyee... I meant to address anonymous. There isn't one dollar made that I can't prove as one dollar wasted....)

AboveAvgJane said...

Interesting comments. I can't wait to see what happens in the elections next year.

Drswife said...

When you dont allow or encourage politicians to continue their occupations, you are encouraging them to become "career politicians". - Tiffany, former PA voter