Archived Story

Unanswered question

Published 9:03am Thursday, February 17, 2011

No matter how you choose to spin it – and from the noticeable lack of formal response from Bertie County local government officials, it appears even they are shying away from a coating of sugar – approving a 42 percent pay increase for a top level administrator is, at best, unadvisable, given the current economy.

Even the meeting-level response that the raise was given to Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb in September of 2009 is an extremely weak reaction to public outcry. By all accounts, the national economy began its downward trend in the fall of 2008. Sure, it took some time for the recession to reach rural northeastern North Carolina, but everyone, at least we hope that everyone, knew it was on the way.

It is also contended that Lamb’s salary hike can be linked to his hard work to protect the county’s financial coffers and the fact he has not suggested, nor have the Bertie citizens endured, a property tax increase for nine consecutive years.

We do not question Lamb’s ability to perform the day-by-day tasks of managing a county, one with a current operating budget of $20.66 million. What we find as odd is the timing of any governmental pay increase, much less a 42 percent hike, in this economy, one with unemployment numbers still running far above average; home foreclosures at an all-time high; private businesses either making drastic cuts or shutting their doors all together; and families struggling to make ends meet.

It must be noted that Zee Lamb, who now makes $144,000 annually plus another $9,000 a year for travel, didn’t make himself the second highest paid county manager in northeastern North Carolina (only trailing Dare County – $239,794). That increase (from the previous salary of $101,725) was granted by a majority vote of the Bertie County Board of Commissioners.

We can’t begin to imagine what prompted that decision. We can only ask what justified such a large increase, especially considering that Lamb’s previous pay hikes since 2002 were less than $4,000 annually (most years between $2,000-to-$3,000).

To date, we have not received an answer.

- The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald

  • John Davis

    I heard Wallace Perry was in Powellsville yesterday doing damage control on the 42% raise and telling people he was responsible for bringing the prison and its jobs to Bertie County. He can take about as much credit for that as he can for the no tax increase the last nine years. He, the other commissioners and the county manager were simply in the right place at the right time.

    The main reason for the no tax increase is the real estate bubble of the first decade in this century and Mother Nature. Our last revaluation was on the front of a wave of increasing property values all across America. This wave was driven by uncontrolled government policies and little financial system oversight and it supported unwarranted expansion in real estate and what has turned out to be inflated values. That financial holocaust inflated property values and along with new subdivisions (a waterfront gift from Mother Nature) increased our tax revenues. The commissioners received these increased revenues as a gift. Our commissioners have spent more every year while receiving this gift and the revenues were so good that the fund balance increased in the face of increased spending. This was a function of the times and not “major league” leadership.

    The arrogance in leadership we are continuing to see and the awakening of our citizens to our lack of leadership can lead to enough petition signatures to demand a recall and reelection process for recently elected county commissioners. It could be done if it is our will.

    What have our commissioners done with their serendipity funds to invest in our future? Not much as I see it. Keep telling the story to your friends and get them all to the next commissioners meeting at 7PM February 28th.

    Suggest Removal

  • buster

    The guy that stole the pit bulls from a home last week should be maded to do jail time and also made to clean all the cat and dog pounds in our-area, which means washing the cats & dogs that have ticks and any other insects on them for 6 months, that would make him see how much he loves other peoples pets. and sing that old lovely song by the name of (HOW MUCH IS THAT DOGGIE IN THE WINDOW) IF ANYONE HAS ANOTHER IDEA SPEAK-UP.

    Suggest Removal

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