AAATA Gives CEO Retroactive Raise

The board of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority has voted to approve a raise for CEO Michael Ford that extends retroactively to October 2012. The board’s vote – to award 3% increases for the previous and current years – came at a special meeting held before the board’s annual retreat on June 10, 2014.

The context of the salary increase includes Ford’s selection as the new CEO for the southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority, but it’s not clear at this point whether Ford will take the job. At the June 10 meeting Ford said, “Right now, I’m still the CEO here…”

The increase for the period from October 2012 through September 2013 raised Ford’s base salary from $164,800 to $169,744. The 3% increase on that amount through the current fiscal year brings his salary to $174,836. The board’s June 10 action authorized a lump sum payment to cover the retroactive raises up to the present time, as well as a $20,000 payment into Ford’s 457 deferred compensation plan account, which reflects payments of $10,000 cash for the fiscal year 2013 and 2014. The lump sum retroactive salary adjustment works out to a little less than $11,900.

Before this most recent increase, Ford’s most recent previous revision to his compensation had come at the board’s Dec. 15, 2011 meeting, when his salary was increased by $4,800 to $164,800 annually. Ford’s contract also includes a car allowance that translates to roughly $10,000 a year. [.pdf of June 10, 2014 compensation letter][.pdf of Ford's contract]

This current raise was awarded to Ford based on a performance evaluation the board had completed at its May 15, 2014 board meeting, which came 11 days after a successful transit millage proposal on May 6, 2014. That performance evaluation also came in the context of Ford’s application for the CEO position with the southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority. The day after his evaluation, Ford was named as one of three finalists for the RTA job, and was subsequently made an offer of the job, which is still pending. The RTA was established by the state legislature in late 2012, and includes Detroit and the four-county region of Washtenaw, Wayne, Macomb and Oakland.

Commenting on his current status at the AAATA board’s June 10 meeting, Ford said: “Right now I am still the CEO here and I’m not having any other discussions at this point with the RTA and that’s my status. I’ll leave it at that.” Board chair Charles Griffith added that Ford has not ruled out the RTA job, saying that the AAATA board would obviously prefer that Ford stay at the AAATA. But if Ford chose to go elsewhere, the board would support that decision. Ford had also assured Griffith that the AAATA would be in good hands and would have a stable transition if Ford were to leave.

Ford’s evaluation was expressed in the form of a board resolution approved on May 15:

Whereas the AAATA board’s evaluation of CEO Michael Ford’s performance reflects his leadership, work ethic, and ability to motivate staff to work at a high level of public service during a challenging period of transitioning the AAATA;

Whereas Michael’s outreach to community leaders in Ann Arbor and surrounding communities has laid the foundation for the expansion of the authority to include Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township and for the newly expanded organization to do an improved job of providing high-quality transit services;

Whereas Michael has led the organization to a number of significant accomplishments during the previous and current fiscal years, including: continued growth in overall ridership; growth in the vanpool program; growth in AirRide ridership and a decrease in the cost of the service; a new collective bargaining agreement ratified by the members of the TW Local 171 and approved by our Board of Directors; launch of a new AAATA website with improved rider information, navigation and tools; construction of a new Blake Transit Center; development of a new five-year urban core transportation improvement plan and a successful millage proposal;

Therefore be it resolved that the AAATA Board of Directors recognizes Michael Ford’s performance and accomplishments and desires to continue his employment as CEO, and the board looks forward to working with Michael on a new contract to continue his employment and also working with him to improve transit services in our community. Our intent is to complete this contract the time of our next meeting.

This brief was filed from the Holiday Inn Express at 600 Briarwood Circle, where the board held its special meeting.

One Comment

  1. By Mary
    June 16, 2014 at 6:05 pm | permalink

    I’m so glad the voters agreed to increase taxes for what was supposed to be expanded transit services. Silly us – instead the AAATA is using a portion of that increase to give a significantly higher salary to someone who probably is leaving for greener pastures.