The State Transportation Board Tuesday approved a $100,000 raise for Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry.
The 40 percent raise would boost McMurry’s pay from $250,000 to $350,000. It would be his second consecutive big raise – last year, the board boosted his pay from $185,000 to $250,000.
In addition to boosting his take-home pay, the raise could give McMurry a pension windfall of tens of thousands of dollars annually.
“I think he is the best in the country,” board Chairman Jamie Boswell said after the vote. “I think he should be compensated accordingly.
“I think he’s that important to the state and to the department,” Boswell added.
McMurry has declined to comment on the raise.
Board member Robert Brown Jr., who just finished a term as chairman, has said the raise is needed to ensure McMurry isn’t lured away to another public- or private-sector job. Among other things, Brown cited the acclaim the commissioner received after GDOT was able to reopen an I-85 bridge in Atlanta just six weeks after a fire caused it to collapse.
President Donald Trump and U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao both praised McMurry’s handling of the bridge reconstruction.
GDOT’s own role in the fire also has come under scrutiny. For years, the agency stored fiber optic cable under the bridge that later went up in flames after a homeless man allegedly set the fire that destroyed the bridge. The material was stored under the bridge long before McMurry became commissioner in 2015.
McMurry joined GDOT in 1990 and rose through its ranks before the board appointed him to the department’s top job.
His latest raise makes him among the best-paid state employees in Georgia. But several university administrators and other state employees earn far more. McMurry also makes far more than the top transportation officials in several other states surveyed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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