Boston Convention Head Volunteers Pay Cut

Under the weight of the recession, state governments nationwide are struggling with budget crises. And in Massachusetts, the meetings industry is doing its part to alleviate some of the strain, as Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) Executive Director James E. Rooney has agreed to a 9 percent salary cut, The Boston Globe reported this month.

According to the paper, Rooney — who oversees both the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC) and the John B. Hynes Memorial Convention Center — has agreed to a new contract that reduces his annual salary to $250,000 from $276,000, and also includes significant decreases in severance and bonus pay.

"Nobody likes to take a pay cut," Rooney said, according to The Globe, "[but] I understand that times have changed, and the economy and the fiscal condition of government is much different than it was in 2006, the last time I signed a contract. I get it."

At a time when his government is cutting funding for public services because of the economic downturn, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick — who earns $140,000 a year — has questioned whether or not state agency executives should receive six-figure salaries. Last year, he therefore launched a broad review of the pay and perks for top officials at several semi-public agencies, including MCCA. Rooney is the first independent authority chief to agree to a salary cut since Patrick launched that review.

"[MCCA] addressed the issues that we had some concerns about, particularly the severance," Stephen B. Crosby, who led Patrick's review of compensation at state agencies, told The Globe. "The base salary [cut] seems to be cosmetic to try to adhere to the spirit of the governor's initiative and the tenor of the times. On the whole, I think it is pretty responsible."