Tuesday, October 2, 2018

New Colorado Springs Utilities CEO pay: $480,000 a year

Posted By on Tue, Oct 2, 2018 at 11:02 AM

Benyamin: A CSU customer as well as its CEO. - COURTESY COLORADO SPRINGS UTILITIES
  • Courtesy Colorado Springs Utilities
  • Benyamin: A CSU customer as well as its CEO.
Colorado Springs Utilities' new CEO Aram Benyamin has one qualification his predecessor, Jerry Forte, didn't have: Benyamin lives within Utilities' service area.

Forte, who retired in May, lived in Black Forest, outside the service area, meaning he wasn't subject to Utilities policies and rate changes, because he wasn't a customer of the agency he was in charge of. Over the years, Utilities Board members have said privately they hoped Forte's successor would be a Utilities customer. Benyamin owns a residential property in northeast Colorado Springs, according to the El  Paso County Assessor's website.

But that wasn't a deciding factor for everyone. Utilities Board member Andy Pico says via email he didn't recall "any discussion about requiring [Benyamin] or any utility employee to live in the service area" and that he isn't aware of Benyamin's residency. Pico voted against Benyamin's contract for a different reason: his high salary.

On Oct. 2, Benyamin was sworn in to his new position, with an annual salary of $480,000, higher than Forte's $447,175. The salary makes Benyamin the city's highest paid employee. But Benyamin's contract doesn't include incentive pay like Forte's contract, which afforded Forte tens of thousands of dollars per year toward his retirement.

Read Benyamin's contract here. It allows him a vehicle at Utilities' expense, but provides only standard retirement and health insurance benefits provided to other employees. If he resigns, he gets no severance pay. If he is terminated without cause, he could receive up to six months severance pay and six months employer contribution to health insurance.

The contract also includes a non-disparagement clause and bars Benyamin from working for or on behalf of a competitor for two years after his departure, as well as trying to hire Utilities employees for a different employer.

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