Perks for BVU's top execs include country club memberships, $20k - WNCN: News, Weather

Perks for BVU's top execs include country club memberships, $20k car allowance

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BRISTOL, VA (WJHL) - Bristol Virginia Utilities customers have been paying for more than just thousands of dollars worth of meals over the years. A review of the salaries and compensation of some of the public utility's top executives reveals a handful receive big perks including vehicle allowances and country club memberships on top of their six-figure salaries.

As BVU and some of its employees remain under criminal investigation for the alleged misuse of public funds, we are learning more and more about how the public utility operates.

Since the Washington County Sheriff's Office and Washington County Commonwealth Attorney's Office's opened its criminal investigation last fall, BVU Interim President and CEO Michael Bundy has said he's made big changes to correct past problems and save customers money. In fact, he's previously said BVU intends to eliminate nine vacant positions this year, including three at the vice presidential level that would save customers more than $1 million.

In the meantime, some of the top employees who remain in upper management get quite the compensation package.

At our request, BVU provided us with salary and compensation figures. Those numbers reveal BVU's executive vice president and chief financial officer makes an annual salary of $193,169.60 a year. In addition, she receives an annual $22,499.76 vehicle allowance and annual $825.96 country club membership.

BVU's general council makes an annual salary of $148,158.40. In addition, he receives an annual $2,346.72 country club membership.

Bundy makes $145,392 a year and receives an annual vehicle allowance of $21,818.04.

BVU's chief technology officer receives an annual salary of $127,254.40 and receives a yearly $19,655.04 vehicle allowance.

"I think it's an abuse," BVU board member Dough Fleenor said. "I don't think you can say anything other than that."

Bristol Virginia Utilities

Title

Salary

Annual Vehicle Allowance

Annual Country Club

Executive VP and CFO

$193,169.60

$22,499.76

$825.96

General Counsel

$148,158.40

0

$2,346.72

Interim President and CEO

$145,392

$21,818.04

0

Chief Technology Officer

$127,254.40

$19,655.04

0

Bristol Tennessee Essential Services

Title

Salary

Annual Vehicle Allowance

Annual Country Club

CEO

$203,361.60

0

$2,904

CFO

$115,481.60

0

0

Chief Technology Officer

$132,350.40

0

0

Johnson City Power Board

Title

Salary

Annual Vehicle Allowance

Annual Country Club

President and CEO

$175,000

Use of company car

Contract covers membership

CEO hasn’t exercised it

CFO

$108,089

0

0

Chief Technology Officer

$102,241

0

0


Fleenor has remained outspoken over the last several weeks about the way BVU's operated over the years. Fleenor says he believes rate payers should be outraged over these compensation packages. According to the board member, he never saw the CFO's contract, which includes both extra perks.

"That wasn't a board decision," Fleenor said.

The CFO is the employee who we previously reported swiped her BVU credit card five times at Starbucks and 32 times at Chick-fil-A over an 18-month period.

"I think the hard working people in this area have been taken advantage of and it's a shame," Fleenor said. "It's a shame, it's a shock and if I were the people out here I'd be outraged and I think they will be outraged."

BVU Board Chairwoman Faith Esposito says compensation is among the things the board is now taking an in-depth look at as part of its efforts to restore trust in the utility.

"We are reviewing all of that," Esposito said. "We're just reviewing everything to be perfectly honest with you top to bottom."

Despite the review, Esposito says nationally the compensation figures aren't that far off from the norm.

"I think you will also find for CEO's, CFO's and people in those positions with the training that they have, that that is not totally out of line with what you will see across the country," Esposito said. "I know they are high for this area and we are reviewing those along with some of the other changes that we're making, but I think you'll find in comparison if you look at even other local utilities, you will find that those salaries are not that far out of line."

For comparison purposes, we requested similar information from two of the other largest utilities around.

Bristol Tennessee Essential Services reports its CEO's annual salary as $203,361.60. In addition, that employee also receives an annual $2,904 Country Club of Bristol membership.

The director of accounting and finance takes in $115,481.60, while the director of engineering collects $132,350.40. BTES says it does not have a car allowance and does not employ a general counsel.

Meanwhile, Johnson City Power Board President and CEO Jeff Dykes reports his annual salary as $175,000. Dykes says he does not receive a car allowance but does have use of a company car. Although Dykes says his contract covers a country club membership, he says he has not exercised that option.

JCPB's chief financial officer receives a salary of $108,089. Its chief technology officer makes $102,241. Dykes says none of those employees or any other JCPB employees receive a car allowance of country club compensation.

JCPB does not have a staff attorney but does have one on retainer at $300 per month plus billable hours on an as needed basic.

As for BVU, despite the negative attention the utility's received lately, at least one employee says he can feel a change in the climate at BVU and appreciates the direction the utility is now heading. Through a public records request we obtained an email sent to BVU's interim president and CEO from an employee earlier this month. The email applauded Bundy for the changes he's made and his efforts to stand up for BVU during this "stressful" time.

Copyright WJHL 2014. All rights reserved.
Bristol Virginia Utilities
Title Salary Annual Vehicle Allowance Annual Country Club
Executive VP and CFO $193,169.60 $22,499.76 $825.96
General Counsel $148,158.40 0 $2,346.72
Interim President and CEO $145,392 $21,818.04 0
Chief Technology Officer $127,254.40 $19,655.04 0
Bristol Tennessee Essential Services
Title Salary Annual Vehicle Allowance Annual Country Club
CEO $203,361.60 0 $2,904
CFO $115,481.60 0 0
Chief Technology Officer $132,350.40 0 0
Johnson City Power Board
Title Salary Annual Vehicle Allowance Annual Country Club
President and CEO $175,000 Use of company car Contract covers membership, but CEO hasn’t exercised it
CFO $108,089 0 0
Chief Technology Officer $102,241 0 0
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