DALLAS — In better years, the top executives at Parkland Memorial Hospital, Dallas County's public hospital, got raises and split millions of dollars in bonuses.
But this is not one of Parkland's better years.
The federal government threatened to withhold Medicaid and Medicare funding after the hospital failed patient safety and emergency care inspections.
And the Justice Department is looking into the supervision of patient care.
Last year, Parkland paid out $3.8 million in incentive bonuses to 160 executives and managers. This year, the hospital says there won't be incentive pay because certain goals weren't met.
Regardless, county commissioners on Tuesday sent a message: Don't think about bonuses or even raises for top employees.
Parkland's board is considering a budget in which all of the hospital's employees would be getting 2 percent pay hikes.
But because of of the inspections, investigations, and a threatened cutoff of federal funds, County Judge Clay Jenkins voiced the most direct opinion whether top execs should get paid more.
"I will not vote for a budget — period — for Parkland if anyone in management is going to get any type of raise or bonus," he said.
County commissioners only approve Parkland's budget and tax rate and don't directly decide on executive pay. But the message was clear to Parkland's board from Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia.
"I think merits, bonuses for management, at this point are totally unacceptable," she said.
However, the pay hike for rank-and-file hospital workers appears to have support.
"On the ground, boots on the ground, delivering services that's one thing," said Commissioner John Wiley Price. "But management and the C-suites and above — they are the ones who have been responsible in terms of management, and therefore should not be rewarded."
With the court's three Democrats criticizing higher pay, Republican Commissioner Maurine Dickey said there is a risk associated with failing to grant it.
"If you delete the possibility of higher level managers being able to get any kind of a raise or bonus for performance, it has a chilling effect on being able to attract good leadership," she said.
The Parkland board reviews the pay issue on Friday, and Commissioners vote next Tuesday.