CPS Energy CEO Doyle Beneby is underpaid. That’s the finding released last Friday from a consultant hired by the municipally owned utility to study employee compensation.
The consultant’s bill for the study: $210,861. The hefty tab for the study does not sit well with some ratepayers.
“For them to contract with somebody for $200,000 is ridiculous, says taxpayer watchdog, and former president of the San Antonio Tea Party, George Rodriguez.
A breakdown of the cost shows the consultant charged $57,076 to study how Beneby’s salary ($820,000 last year) compared to CEOs at similar public and privately owned utilities. The cost to compare the salaries of other CPS employees to their industry counterparts came out to $153,785.
“This shows there are people within CPS who don't understand the nature of public agencies, they think they're in a private firm,” says Rodriguez.
This study by consultant Towers Watson was ordered after I broke the news last summer that CPS Energy handed out a record $16.4 million dollars in bonuses to its more than 36,000 employees in May. Some top managers got six figure pay outs.
The utility defends the additional cost to ratepayers for the salary study. “My understanding is the third party actually performed a substantial review of work force compensation for about 160 positions at CPS Energy looking at compensation, benefits and incentive pay overall for multiple positions,” says utility spokesperson Lisa Lewis.
Rodriguez thinks the public utility should have saved rate payers by doing the salary comparison. “Like any business should have handled it, they should have had their own staff internally analyze what is going on,” says Rodriguez.
This is the response we got from CPS when we asked why it did not do the work: “I'm sure that we could, but then you'd probably do an interview with me why we didn't hire a third party to do an assessment,” said Lewis.
Towers Watson declined to release a copy of the studying paid for by rate payers claiming it is their company’s “work product”.