Guilford officials get pay adjustments

Dec. 24, 2012 @ 03:42 PM

The Grinch won’t be visiting top county officials this Christmas. The checks are in the mail. 
Despite challenges about the way the previous 11-member Board of Commissioners approved pay adjustments in an October closed session, the new 9-member board voted 7-2 earlier this month to boost pay for 15 top administrators either hired by commissioners, elected by voters, or who report to the county manager or independent boards.
Other rank-and-file employees earlier got a $250 bonus.  The largest director increase, $14,000, went to Department of Social Services Director Robert Williams, whose salary was increased  to $140,000 a year. 
“The checks are out now,”  Chairwoman Linda Shaw said during the meeting. “We do not want to leave the employees in limbo.”
County Human Resources Director Sharisse Fuller told commissioners that the adjustments are not raises and were necessary to comply with federal pay equity laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The laws require pay equity to protect women, minorities and seniors.
In 2009, Fuller’s office started looking at pay equity, but only 400 of 2,400 jobs have been reviewed.  The previous board of commissioners wanted to make department heads a pay equity priority, Fuller said.
“It appears that when these reviews are finished, it will be time to start over,” said Republican Commissioner Bill Bencini of High Point.
Williams and Elections Director Geroge Gilbert report to independent boards that suggest pay scales to commissioners. Commissioners approve pay for the county attorney, clerk to the board, finance director, tax director, register of deeds and county sheriff. The sheriff and register of deeds are elected. The county manager hires the other directors at salaries approved by commissioners.
A legal problem can arise, Fuller said, if a new employee, hired at a market-rate salary, earns more than a veteran worker at the same job.  A majority of the new board said the raises are necessary because of the salary review is not over.
“We should not get tied up with what the old board did,” said Democratic Commissioner Bruce Davis of High Point. “We do not need a legal issue. We need to move on with the salary study.”

Commissioners may discuss the county’s ongoing equity pay study at their Jan. 10 retreat.
Republican Commissioner Jeff Phillips wanted to rescind the increases approved in October for all 15 employees.
“We have not been transparent with the people about this,” he said.
Phillips and Republican Commissioner Jerry Alan Branson, both new to the board, voted against the adjustments.
County Budget Director Michael Halford said the county can cover the increases by using money from vacant positions or those that are about to become vacant.


Salaries approved directly by the Board of Commissioners:
• Social Services Director Robert Williams, from $125,778 to $140,000 a year.
• County Attorney Mark Payne, $148,600 to $153,000
• Guilford County Finance Director Reid Baker, $128,600 to $135,000
• Sheriff BJ Barnes, $137,493 to $142,000
• Tax Director Ben Chavis, $105,600 to $113,000
• Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen, $107,438 to $109,586
• Clerk to the Board Effie Varitimidis, $77,850 to $81,500 •—Elections Director George Gilbert, $97,372 to $99,319.

Salaries approved by the County Manager:
• Security Director Jeff Fowler, from $80,133 to $87,000
• Budget Director Mike Halford, from $112,013 to $120,000
• Facilities Director Fred Jones, $99,961 to $109,000
• Child Support/Court Services Director Renee Kenan, $102,950 to $110,000
• Juvenile Detention Director Doug Logan, $78,917 to $86,500
• Emergency Services Director Alan Perdue, $107,532 to $115,000
• Internal Audit Director Martha Rogers, $101,154 to $110,000