Turnpike Authority Salary Growth Taking A Toll On Maine


Maine Turnpike Authority Wasting MoneyWe knew that the Maine Turnpike Authority was wasting public toll dollars on gift cards, bathroom art and left-wing groups. Now, thanks to MaineOpenGov.org, we can see exactly how the MTA spends the rest of our toll money.

Today, MaineOpenGov.org was updated with Maine Turnpike Authority payroll data from 1998 – 2010 and vendor payments from 2000 – 2010. Our analysis of the data shows pretty much what you would expect from an organization that spent $157,000 of your toll dollars on gift cards and didn’t even bother to keep track of who got them.

Findings from the data:

Maine Turnpike Authority (MTA) payroll costs skyrocketed between 1998 and 2010, going from $19 million to $27 million, an increase of 72 percent. To put that in perspective, private sector salaries and benefits grew at just 46 percent during that same time period. If the MTA could have managed to just keep their growth in line with the private sector, or even close, it could have saved millions of dollars in your toll dollars, that could have helped keep up the highways, kept toll rates from increasing or kept MTA from adding to their over $400,000,000 in debt.

Maine Turnpike Authority Payroll

Instead, those toll dollars went to fund some major salary increases for employees at MTA. Just 12 years ago, in 1998, MTA employed only two people who were taking home more than $80,000 in total compensation. Since then, your toll dollars have been used to fund an explosion in highly paid employees. Today, there are 75 employees at MTA who rake in $80,000 or more.

Maine Turnpike Authority High Salaries

Another interesting piece of information comes from the toll collection department. There are fewer toll collectors now than there was in 1998, as you can see from the chart below, but overall, toll collectors are earning more than they did back then. A lot more.

Maine Turnpike Authority Toll Collectors This point becomes even clearer when you consider this fact: In 1998, just one lonely toll collector made more than $60,000 in salary in benefits. But that one toll collector has plenty of company now, because today, 85 toll collectors take home at least $60,000.

MTA Toll Collectors earning more than $60,000Finally, and probably most ludicrous, we found that the executives at MTA (you know, the ones spending your toll dollars on limo rides, alcohol, and fancy hotels?) gave themselves huge raises in the past decade. We looked at the top 10 highest paid at MTA and took a look back their salaries from 1998. The results are shocking – these execs were pulling down raises close to $10,000 every year in some cases, and a few of them had salary increases of 123% in just 12 years. What’s more, 7 of these MTA big wigs make more than the Commissioner of Transportation.

Name Position Department 1998 Total 2010 Total Increase 1998 – 2010  
Neil R. Libby Deputy Executive Director & Chief Financial Officer Accounts & Control $89,245 $189,708 113%  
Paul E. Violette Executive Director Administration $97,915 $171,640 75%  
Peter S. Merfeld Chief Operations Officer Building Maintenance & Engineering $64,311 $143,639 123%  
Douglas D. Davidson Director of Finance & Information Services Accounts & Control $70,934 $137,505 94%  
Wesley L. Jackson Director of Maintenance Highway Maintenance $76,588 $136,462 78%  
Conrad W. Welzel Government Relations Manager Administration $56,551 $126,219 123%  
Richard R. Barra Director of Fare Collections Fare Collections $69,728 $125,628 80%  
Jonathan A. Arey Staff Attorney Administration $59,170 $119,574 102% (since 2001)
Stephen R. Tartre Director of Engineering & Building Maintenance Building Maintenance & Engineering $75,870 $119,311 57% (since 2001)
Lauren Graveline Carrier Director of Human Resources Administration $75,491 $118,986 58% (since 2006)


It’s one thing to waste the public’s money on gift cards, fancy dinners and overseas trips, but to give yourself a huge raise for the effort? Unacceptable.

The wasteful and careless management of public money at the MTA has got to stop.