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Sometimes the readers make it easy on the People’s Reporter. They already have the answer.

This time, it has to do with the Centre City Development Corp., the city’s downtown redevelopment arm. Last month, the CCDC board gave President Nancy Graham a $65,000 bonus on top of her $235,000 annual salary.

The reader then pointed us to a May hearing in which the City Council turned down a CCDC request to increase its pay ranges. Instead, the council decided to keep the pay scale stagnant for the budget year. (CCDC staff could receive up to a 4-percent bump if they weren’t earning the top of their wage range.)

From the May 24, 2006 Union-Tribune story:

Centre City president Nancy Graham said in an interview that a recent compensation survey showed a handful of her 50 employees were being paid below market rates. Also, she said some people are slated to get pay raises because of promotions.

“There is no across-the-board 7 percent increase,” said Graham, whose current salary is $235,500. Next year the proposed range would be up to $260,000.

Graham said she sympathizes with the city’s situation but she is afraid employees would leave without raises. She also said her agency contributes to to (sic) the city’s general fund through increased sales and tourist taxes generated by its projects.

“It would be silly for CCDC to cut off its nose and lose some of its really good people,” she said. “We still don’t pay what private development pays.”

When Graham voiced that sentiment at the council meeting, Councilman Brian Maienschein objected, saying, “You make it seem like some of these people are taking a vow of poverty.”

He pointed out top pay for the senior vice president would go from $174,000 to $190,000 and the chief financial officer’s would move from $170,000 to $185,000. “All of those positions are close to double or triple what anyone on the council makes.”

The reader then added this statement about Graham’s bonus: “Talk about giving the proverbial finger to the City Council and taxpayers.”

Graham, the former mayor of West Palm Beach, Fla., was out of the office today and not checking her messages.

CCDC board member Fred Maas said he couldn’t get into details regarding the motivated bonus, but said Graham was chosen out of a group of highly talented and qualified individuals after a national search, and her contract contemplated as much as a $125,000 or $130,000 bonus for the year.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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