Commissioners deadlocked over salary reductions

March 23, 2009 4:57:05 PM PDT
Wake County Commissioners are deadlocked over whether to cut their own pay.Commissioner Joe Bryan is proposing commissioners take a pay cut until the recession is over.

The proposal was presented at the board of commissioners meeting earlier this month. It calls for a 10 percent pay cut and it mirrors what county departments have already been preparing for.

"We know that we will a have a shortfall this year," Wake County Manager David Cooke explained. "We expect the shortfall to be in the 23 to 24 million-dollar range."

That's why Wake Commissioner Bryan suggested he and his fellow board members lead by example and reduce their own salaries to help with the county's budget problems. County commissioners already voted to cut $23 million from the current budgets.

"I feel like the commissioners would be in a place and leading by example and being out front by not just talking about we feel your pain and we're better not gonna go on some trip or some travel, but we in fact cut our stipend a little bit," Cooke said.

Some commissioners say such a step is anything but leadership. Commissioner Stan Norwalk calls it political posturing.

Commissioners make just over $19,000 and the chairman makes around $22,000. Most board members have other jobs, but there are concerns about the proposal from democrats like Vice Chairman Lindy Brown.

The elected position is her only job and only source of income, she says she has already had to dip into her savings.

Commissioner Brown says she won't take the voluntary cut, she says she has chosen not to apply for any gas mileage reimbursement for driving her car to county business since November.

"My salary alone is my bread and butter at this point," Brown said. "I keep telling everyone I'm the brokest county commissioner on this board."

Bryan says he isn't buying that line of thinking.

"In North Carolina, it shouldn't be your full-time job," Bryan said. "It's not about drawing a paycheck. So that doesn't carry a lot of water with me."

So far Eyewitness News has learned Bryan and Tony Gurley will take the cut. Brown, Norwalk and Betty Lou Ward say they won't. No word yet from the two other commissioners.

Click here and scroll to item 15 on the agenda to learn more about the possible salary reductions.


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