Department heads under Fresch also benefited from the extra-hours billing system, which the city phased out in the last year. In 2009, City Atty. Jeffrey Harrison made $800,000, while Light and Power Director Donal O'Callaghan and Finance Director Roirdan Burnett were paid $785,000 and $570,000, respectively.
O'Callaghan resigned in October, shortly before he was indicted on conflict-of-interest charges related to his wife's work for the city, and Harrison left earlier this year, with a $1-million settlement. Burnett, still with the city, bristled when asked about the billings, many of which he approved. "I'm not going to answer questions that I find to be absurd," he said before hanging up.
When asked about what Fresch did to earn his large pay, City Administrator Mark Whitworth this summer defended it as a measure of the expertise needed by the city, whose 1,800 businesses employ about 55,000 people.
"When people say he is an ordinary person, he is not in the least. He's extraordinary," Whitworth said. "Eric is one of those people who we think does a wonderful job."