OAKLAND (AP) — A top official for the agency that manages the San Francisco Bay Area’s BART system earned more than $330,000 last year — even though she didn’t work a single day for the public transit agency, a newspaper reported Sunday.
Bay Area Rapid Transit general manager Dorothy Dugger resigned under pressure in May 2011, but stayed on the payroll for another 19 months and was BART’s highest-paid employee in 2012, the Bay Area News Group) reported.
Dugger, 57, cashed in nearly 80 weeks of unused vacation time, drawing paychecks and full benefits. During that period, she earned nearly two extra months of vacation, received management bonuses and medical insurance, and boosted her pension benefits by more than $1,000 a month for life. When she left BART’s payroll in December, she began to draw an annual pension of $181,000, according to the newspaper.
Dugger said she was entitled to the money because she earned more than 3,100 hours of unused vacation time during two decades with the light-rail agency.
“It was time I earned my whole career at BART,” she said. “It’s a cost of having the option” to save the vacation until the end of a career, she said.
The value of her unused vacation days soared after she took the top job in 2007 and received a raise of nearly $100,000 a year because the unused time-off was paid at her final, highest pay rate — not her rate when the time was accrued, records show.
“She was still on the payroll? I did not know this. It’s startling,” said James Fang, a BART board member who tried to oust Dugger in 2011. “We have to look at this.”
Some BART riders are also upset.
“I hope it becomes a big stink,” said BART patron Mitch Roland, of Alameda. “This is an agency funded by taxpayers. ... They should have stricter controls.”
The months of extra pay were on top of the $920,000 that BART paid Dugger to leave in May 2011 after the agency’s board botched an effort to fire her by violating public meetings laws. She left amid mounting complaints about BART’s service and cleanliness as well as her leadership.
Dugger told the newspaper she was proud of her time with BART. Asked if her lucrative use of vacation time exposed a fiscal flaw in the agency, she said, “I think BART’s track record on fiscal management is quite solid.”