In April 2019, an article surfaced that the winter referees still had not been paid for work completed. DPR went on the record stating that they are working on the issue and verified that they had paid the contractor over $180,000. In September 2019, some of the unpaid workers showed up at the County Board meeting and the County Board reiterated that they are working on it.
“Dorsey said that officials found out that the head of Mid-Atlantic suffered “a catastrophic health issue” that caused a backlog of payment requests, among other record-keeping issues. The county is in contact with relatives of the company’s founder, who have helped with the business and paid all of the unpaid referees they were aware of, Dorsey said.
“What is challenging for us… is that we paid the vendor,” said Dorsey, adding that Board has a duty to prevent taxpayers from “paying twice” for the service.”And, now, it’s January 2020, almost a full year since the referees should have been paid and the county staff and board still haven’t figured it out. Just this month, the junior member of the board has made a verbal commitment to have the payments out latest February 1.
This issue seems to poke a hole in all of the platitudes of how important equity is to board members. The board has known about the issue since at least September and they can’t figure out how to pay a high schooler $255 for services rendered? The board members have given a considerable amount of air to the issue of equity in campaign speeches and the County 2020 priorities session? And, yet, they have the audacity to talk about equity, when arguably paying for services rendered is the bedrock of equity?
The County has a billion dollar plus budget and the county staff cannot figure out how to set up a system to get referees paid and ensure that they aren’t double paid? This signals a lack of contractual prudence as well as a lack of ethics in working with vendors and community members.
This type of behavior needs to be stopped in its tracks and accountability could look a lot of ways.
- The person who signed the contract with the vendor could be fired for not having done the due diligence and set up an appropriate contract protecting the county and the workers with a bond or some other vendor vehicle.
- The DPR Director could be fired and/or have her paychecks held [until the dispute is resolved] for yet another example of the department’s lack of leadership and organizational effectiveness
- The County Manager could be held accountable and be fired or have his paycheck held until the referees are paid.
- The County Board could be held accountable and have ALL of their pay checks held until the referees are paid.
I’m sure that many will find that $180,000 is not on a par with firing or holding someone’s checks. However, there has to be something. At some point the staff has to be held accountable for the debacle and their inability to resolve it in a quick and appropriate way.
Arlington is currently working in an environment lacking any sort of government accountability or guard rails. The Arlington County Board has shown a lack of interest in holding the Arlington County Manager accountable on any number of issues and the Arlington County ombudsman is busy writing frivolous emails saying nothing and offering platitudes. There are several options and the county residents must hold the Arlington County Board’s feet to the fire to get these easy issues resolved – b/c we certainly have plenty of hard issues to solve.