Ben Franklin Transit general manager to get $140,000 salary

Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldApril 24, 2014 

Ben Franklin Transit's new general manager has signed a contract with an annual base salary of $140,000, officials said.

Dennis Solensky signed the contract and mailed it Thursday, said Pat Roach, attorney for the transit agency. The former transit director in Erie, Pa., is expected to start work May 6.

Solensky plans to arrive in town the day before he starts and will be ready to go, Roach said.

"He's been on the phone checking out the community," he said.

The Ben Franklin Transit board approved the contract with Solensky by a 6-0 vote this week during a special meeting.

Solensky will be paid 15.6 percent more than the $121,092 a year that former Ben Franklin transit General Manager Tim Fredrickson made when he resigned in December.

Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins, the chairman of the transit board, said Solensky is worth the investment.

"It's a broad cross section of his skills and expertise," Watkins said.

Solensky's contract can be negotiated again after a year. He would be eligible for any cost of living increases that Ben Franklin Transit employees receive.

Solensky would be eligible for three months salary should he be terminated without cause before the contract ends.

Solensky and his family will receive free transit passes. The new general manager also can choose between use of a company car or receiving a $350 car allowance.

The contract also authorizes Solensky to become a member of local civic organizations, with the transit agency paying up to $1,000 annually for membership.

Solensky led the Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority from 2001-13. He has said he helped grow the agency to 4 million rides per year from 2.5 million when he took over.

Solensky had an annual base salary of $109,737 his last year in Erie, according to the Erie Times-News.

Solensky and Bill Forsythe, the former owner of private transit contractors, were finalists chosen out of more than 80 applicants for the Ben Franklin Transit manager position. The board unanimously voted for Solensky at its April 10 regular meeting.

Solensky takes over at a time when Ben Franklin Transit is seeing decreased ridership. It reported 10.1 percent fewer rides between October 2012 and October 2013.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543;; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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