T forgot raises for top 2 officials

A bonus for General Manager Poftak being discussed

THE MBTA FAILED to give its top two officials pay raises they were owed and no one, including the officials themselves, noticed the error until a reporter asked about them.

Under the three-year contract General Manager Steve Poftak signed with the T in January 2019, he received a starting salary of $320,000 and automatic raises of 1.5 percent each year. The first raise was due on January 1, but he never received the money.

Similarly, Deputy General Manager Jeff Gonneville has a contract that entitles him to a base salary of $253,750 a year and an automatic 1.5 percent raise each year. He got the raise in July 2018 after the first year of his contract, but not in July 2019.

Joe Pesaturo, a spokesman for the T, said the raises got lost in the shuffle inside the agency’s human resources office, which has been focused on ramping up hiring at the authority. He said the contracts of the T’s top two employees are drawn up differently than others at the agency, so that may have contributed to the confusion.

“For lack of a better word, it was an oversight,” Pesaturo said. “Human resources wasn’t aware of this escalator in Steve’s contract and Steve didn’t say anything. It was just an oversight.”

Pesaturo said the raises will be included in the paychecks of Poftak and Gonneville going forward and the money owed will also be paid.

Pesaturo said he wasn’t sure why Poftak and Gonneville didn’t know they weren’t getting the money to which they were entitled. But he suspected it may have been a case where the money was being direct-deposited and they just didn’t notice that it wasn’t being included.

“Were they laser-focused on their paycheck to see if it got in there? No, they were not,” he said.

Based on pre-established performance goals, Poftak was also eligible, at the discretion of Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, to get up to a 5 percent bonus for the first six months of 2019 and up to another 5 percent for the remaining six months of the year. He has been getting rave reviews from the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board, and Pollack, through a spokeswoman, indicated a bonus is being considered.

“The bonus for General Manager Poftak is still being discussed,” she said in an email.

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Gonneville’s contract entitles him to annual bonuses, up to 10 percent a year. In 2018, he received a bonus of $15,500. He has received no bonus money so far this year.

Bruce Mohl contributed to this report.