With a salary of $190,000 William G. Dunn is the highest-paid local government employee in Mount Holly, home to the Burlington County administration building and courthouse that serve a population of nearly a half-million people.
But Dunn, 83, does not prosecute criminal cases or administer county operations.
His employer resides one street over, and is far more obscure: the Mount Holly Municipal Utilities Authority.
Every time they flush a toilet or wash the dishes, the authority’s 13,119 ratepayers in Mount Holly and the surrounding communities of Hainesport, Moorestown, Lumberton, Westampton, and Eastampton are contributing to what Dunn, the authority’s executive director, calls “my little sphere of influence.”
That sphere is immortalized at 37 Washington St. in the form of the William G. Dunn Administration Building, dedicated in 2002.
Now, as it has been for decades, his life is the authority. It is a modest operation with a budget of $13 million and a payroll of 60. Dunn nevertheless has launched an outsize career from here in all matters sewage.
He has worked for the MUA since 1962 – first as a board member and chairman, and for 30 years full-time as executive director – and is among the highest-paid government utilities executive directors in New Jersey.
His salary exceeds that of not only any county employee down the street (the highest paid is the prosecutor, who earns $165,000) but also, in a more direct comparison, those of the executive directors of larger utilities authorities.
At the comparably sized Willingboro MUA, the executive director makes $132,500, and in Mount Laurel, with some 18,000 ratepayers, Dunn’s counterpart earns $125,000. In Evesham, the executive director was making $122,000 when he retired last month from the 16,000-customer MUA.
At the Camden County Utilities Authority, with 150,000 customers, the executive director makes $159,877. At the Gloucester County Utilities Authority, it’s $109,766.
In New Jersey’s most populous county, the head of the Bergen County Utilities Authority, with about 540,000 residential ratepayers, earns $131,400.
Dunn’s most substantial undertaking now is overseeing the construction of a new treatment plant in Lumberton, set for completion in 2011.
Residential usage rates have doubled in the last decade – the authority says this is a result of higher costs for insurance, chemicals, and electricity, and the expense of the new plant – though officials note that they are lower than in many surrounding areas.
“What’s caught our attention and we’re getting comments about have been not only the size of the increases but the frequency that we are getting,” Moorestown resident Bill Parker, speaking for a condo association, told the authority at a 2007 hearing on a rate increase, part of which took effect in 2008.
During the same hearing, resident Walt Simpson urged the authority to keep its “belt tight.”
“If we keep it any tighter, we won’t be able to breathe,” replied board chairman John Edwards.
Yet the salaries of Dunn and his administrative staff – which are set by the board – steadily rose during the same period. Dunn’s salary is up 50 percent from 2000, when he was making $117,104. The deputy director of finance and the plant operations manager were making about $50,000 at the start of the decade; now their salaries are around $100,000.
Dunn said that the union employees receive a 4 percent raise each year, and that the administrative staff should receive similar amounts. Officials noted a previous problem with turnover, saying they wanted to retain good employees.
“All I can say is they’re doing a good job and we’ve been fair with it,” Dunn said.
The MUA created a position in 2004 for an assistant executive director, whose salary has increased some 40 percent since then to $100,506. Dunn said the board wanted to have someone trained to be his successor.
When that transition might occur is another matter. Now a week shy of his 84th birthday, Dunn doesn’t want to quit.
***According to the APP database Mr. Dunn makes $190,ooo per year and has over 30 years in the pension.
The Hudson County MUA is 40 times the size of Mt. Holly MUA yet the Exec. Dir. there makes $60,000 less then Dunn. Dunn also has the distinction of being paid more than our Township Manager, Chief of Police, County Administrator, Sheriff, BCC President and the Governor. No wonder the guy can afford to eat at The Robin’s Nest every day and has his own chair there.
Did you know:
Mr. Dunn happens to be a former Mt. Holly Councilman and it should come as no surprise that all the MHMUA board members are all current council members, past council members or politically connected to council. And of course members of the MHMUA are all appointed by Mt. Holly Town Council.
More to come on the Patronage Pit known as MHMUA