DALLAS — Dr. Ron Anderson, president and CEO of the Parkland Health and Hospital System, earns $606,000 as base pay, but he's in line to collect an extra $246,000.
Together, the 29 top administrators of the Dallas County hospital system will get nearly $2 million in extra pay. The hospital board's president, Dr. Lauren McDonald, calls it "earned compensation" for meeting major goals.
"We could almost look at a report card to show people why we did what we did, and what the person received," she said.
But those payments are drawing fire from critics like State Sen. Jim Jackson, who fought against such bonuses when he was a county commissioner.
"This does not seem to be a smart thing to do," he said, "especially given the time we are in and the mood the electorate is in."
The hospital board argues the pay is a good deal for taxpayers, and they use Parkland's emergency room as an example.
In 2008, restaurateur Mike Herrera died there after waiting 19 hours for treatment. The board set a goal to cut wait times in half, and after one year they are almost there.
Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price says that saves both lives and money.
"It's appropriate," Price said. "We get that kind of value out of Parkland. They have no debt. You pay for decent talent."
But Sen. Jackson argues that the hospital's board of directors is missing the mood of a country that is rebelling against bonuses and government spending
"If they got any extra money, I think the property taxpayer would like to have it," he said.