Developing: MaineHousing gave out more than $100,000 in bonuses in 2010


DEVELOPING: According to minutes from the Maine State Housing Authority’s board of commissioners meetings,the agency gave $1,000 non-performance-based bonuses to all employees between August and September 2010.

UPDATE: MSHA Director Dale McCormick on WVOM radio this morning confirms and discusses the raises.
[audio:|titles=Dale McCormick on WVOM]

At the suggestion of MSHA board member Donald Gean, bonuses were apparently given to all Maine Housing workers employed on December 31, 2009. Data from show 144 employees on staff in 2009, and 147 in 2010. This puts the approximate total of arbitrary bonuses paid by MaineHousing at between $144,000 and $147,000.

From the August 2010 board minutes:
“Commissioner Gean asked to follow-up his e-mail about the budget and 2009 staff increases. He suggested that in lieu of no salary increases we consider the possibility of a $1,000 bonus to all staff. He asked that it be put on the table for discussion. Commissioner Gean credits the staff for efficiencies in work and reorganization to handle the increased work load. Commissioner Gean made a motion seconded by Commissioner McLean to reward all staff at MaineHousing with a $1,000 bonus. The motion passed with 5 Commissioners voting in favor, none opposing and 1 abstaining. The vote carried 5 – 0 – 1.

The Board continued the discussion about what had actually been done for staff and talked about whether the bonus should be just for employees who worked in 2009 or also for staff hired in 2010. Commissioner Cota made a motion to reward the $1,000 bonus to all employees working at December 31, 2009. The motion passed with 5 Commissioners voting in favor, none opposing and 1 abstaining. The vote carried 5 – 0 – 1. Commissioner McCormick expressed her appreciation on behalf of the staff.

September 2010 board minutes show Director Dale McCormick responding to the payments:
“Dale McCormick provided the following updates:
• The $1,000 bonus was incredibly well received and appreciated by staff.”

These payments cast a different light on recent claims by MSHA Director Dale McCormick that a shortfall in heating assistance funding distributed through the agency will mean ‘people will die’. The average heating assistance payment is $811 per household, which means these non-performance-based bonuses could have funded heating assistance for more than 180 families.

It is not clear whether these bonus payments circumvented state employee pay freezes, or what the precedent for these types of payments are. The Maine Wire will continue to report on this as it develops.