N’hamp Manager receives pay hike

Published 8:54 am Tuesday, June 30, 2015

JACKSON – With the last week’s approval of the Fiscal Year 2015-16 General Fund operating budget for Northampton County local government, it was duly noted that this new financial spreadsheet for the upcoming 12 months contained no cost-of-living increases for employees of the county.

However, as it turns out, there was a major adjustment for one high-ranking county official made earlier this year while another had a raise approved in May.

Effective tomorrow (Wednesday, July 1, which marks the start of the new fiscal year), the annual salary earned by County Manager Kimberly Turner will be $82,015. That figure marks an increase from $70,724.

According to the minutes of the May 4 meeting of the Northampton County Board of Commissioners, a motion was made by Robert Carter and seconded by Virginia Spruill that the Board approve the request for a salary increase for the County Manager. That motion was approved without objection.

That action came after the board had reconvened in open session following a scheduled closed session.

“Once I completed my County Manager’s training on May 1 at the School of Government in Chapel Hill, that information was shared and discussed by the Commissioners at their May 4 meeting,” said Turner when contacted this past Friday by the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. “It was at that meeting where my raise was approved, but that issue was brought up at a previous meeting of the Commissioners where it was mentioned that the county managers of other counties were the highest paid employee. At that meeting it was noted that I was the sixth highest paid employee in Northampton County.”

According to a listing of annual salaries paid to Northampton local government employees, Turner’s $70,724 was ranked as the sixth highest as of June 26. The top five, in order, are Economic Development Director Gary Brown ($95,343); Finance Officer Dorothy Vick ($88,378); Sheriff Jack Smith ($78,253); Emergency Management Director Ronald Storey ($74,482); and Department of Social Services Director Shelia Manley-Evans ($70,892).

It should be noted that the Sheriff’s salary was raised to its current amount following a decision made by the Commissioners at their Jan. 5 meeting. His previous annual salary was listed at $54,031.

Vick is the county’s longest-serving employee (hired in 1973). Brown has been with the county since 1992 while Storey and Manley-Evans respectively came onboard in 2005 and 2011.

It was at that same meeting where Turner’s salary was discussed. The meeting minutes show the discussion initially centered on Turner’s length of service to the county, noting that she had been employed since 2003. Commissioner Carter noted that county managers are typically the highest paid employees within local government entities. He suggested that Turner’s salary did not necessarily have to be the highest, but at least higher than the department heads she directly supervises.

The minutes show that Commissioner Chester Deloatch asked Turner when did she receive her last raise. She replied when she was offered the county manager’s job on a full-time basis in July of last year. At that time her salary was raised from $65,675 to $70,724.

A motion was offered by Carter and seconded by Spruill at the Jan. 5 meeting to increase Turner’s salary to $76,159. That motion failed by a 3-2 margin with Deloatch, board chair Fannie Greene and vice chair Joe Barrett voting in opposition.

Barrett stated that he would prefer to see Turner’s increase come in effect for the next cycle (the 2015-16 budget year). Greene said her concern was that Turner received a $5,000 raise in July (2014) and that the board was looking at another $6,000 increase in January (2015). Greene agreed in waiting until the next budget cycle, which would mark the completion of Turner’s first year on the job.

“Even now, with the raise that was approved back in May, I’m not the highest paid employee in the county,” said Turner on Friday.

When asked about a lack of across-the-board raises for all county employees, Turner said pay hikes were discussed by the Commissioners during the recently completed budget workshops. However, she said that proposal (a 2.5 percent pay hike) would have cost the county approximately $215,000.

As far as to Carter’s assertion of the salaries of other county managers in the state, an online records check performed by the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald through the North Carolina School of Government (SOG) revealed that prior to her raise to $82,015 annually, Turner was the seventh lowest paid manager in the state as of January of this year. The SOG listings show the Yancey County Manager receiving the lowest salary at $63,036 followed, in ascending order, by Mitchell County ($69,079), Allegany County ($69,154), Gates County ($70,000), Caswell County ($70,008), and Cherokee County ($71,400).

Turner’s new employment compensation package pales in comparison to the salaries of her peers in nearby counties. According to the SOG, as of Jan. 15 of this year the Vance County Manager is paid $126,864 annually (plus $7,200 as a travel stipend). Other local counties pay their managers well – to include Edgecombe ($117,260), Halifax ($110,821 plus $7,200 for travel), Warren ($106,302), Hertford ($99,277 plus $4,800 in travel), Bertie ($96,000 plus $4,800 in travel), and Martin ($94,864).

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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