Allen will lead a burgeoning rail line that connects increasingly crowded corridors from Manassas and Fredericksburg to downtown Washington by way of Union Station.
VRE’s two governing bodies — the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission and the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission — officially confirmed Allen, who had been recommended by VRE’s Operations Board.
The NVTC confirmed Allen in an unanimous vote, according to Rick Taube, the organization’s executive director.
After the PRTC’s closed session, the board voted, 12 to 4, to hire Allen.
State Dels. Richard Anderson (R-Prince William) and Jackson Miller (R-Manassas), along with Stafford County Supervisor Susan B. Stimpson (R) and Spotsylvania County Supervisor Benjamin T. Pitts (I) voted against Allen’s appointment.
Anderson, Pitts and Stimpson said in interviews after the vote that they could not generally discuss the closed meeting but said that they agreed Allen is competent.
Anderson and Pitts disagreed with Allen’s high compensation. His contract pays a base salary of $230,000, with $30,000 for moving expenses for the first year, as well as $30,000 in deferred compensation that continues through the life of the contract, Pitts said. It also includes health insurance.
“It was just a little bit too rich,” Pitts said. “I haven’t seen a contract where you get free health insurance.”
Anderson said that tight state and local budgets mean leaders should rein in government salaries. “What I do hear [from constituents] . . . is a palpable anger at the salaries in the public sector these days.”
Stimpson said that VRE’s hiring process was flawed. “I think the debate wasn’t rigorous enough,” she said. “Over candidates, over salary . . . the majority shut down attempts at discussion. We can’t just rubber-stamp because we want a unanimous vote.”
Allen said his experience in Dallas with and Austin’s small and relatively new system has prepared him to take the helm at VRE. Those systems also intersect heavily with state, federal and local governments, similar to VRE, he said.
“I’m very excited about it,” Allen said Thursday. “There’s a lot of potential and a lot of need.” Allen’s first day is expected to be Monday.