Local Politics

Durham County raises raise eyebrows

Posted November 30, 2011

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— The Durham County Board of Commissioners' recent approval of salary increases for county employees of up to 32 percent, which has raised questions among some.

While most county employees were awarded raises of up to 4.25 percent, County Manager Mike Ruffin received a 10 percent raise and the clerk to the Board of Commissioners, Michelle Parker-Evans, got a 32 percent raise.

"We just feel like this is a misuse of taxpayer dollars," said Theodore Hicks, chairman of the Durham County Republican Party

Michael Page, chairman of the commissioners, said county salaries were frozen for three years before the raises.

"Many of these are working-class families. How do we continue to not be able to support them in some way?" he said to explain the board's thinking.

Page said Parker-Evans was given a raise from $61,000 to $80,313 because she had completed a certification program that county officials asked her to take when she was hired. According to information from the University of North Carolina School of Government database, her salary remains lower than board clerks in Wake and Orange counties.

"We lose good employees simply because we are underpaying them, so this is one of the reasons why we try to maintain competitive in that regard," Page said.

Likewise, Ruffin's salary was raised to $179,000 a year to reward his performance and to keep him at the level of his peers, Page said.

"We have not given the county manager a raise in three years, and that (10 percent raise) equates to about 3.3 percent per year," he said.

Money generic, dollars Durham County official defends salary increases

Hicks said he thinks Ruffin is doing a good job, but the raise is high during a sluggish economy.

"We don't believe a lot of people are getting 10 percent raises, no matter what sector they are working in," he said. "It seems to be not in line with the economic climate. It seems like it's not in line with what the rank and file are getting."

He also questioned why commissioners approved a 4.25 percent raise for Sheriff Worth Hill when he is retiring at the end of the year. Page said the increase was voted on before Hill announced his retirement.

Because county employees are getting raises, the commissioners themselves automatically receive a 4.25 percent raise.

"We did not vote intentionally for us to get a raise," Page said.

Most Durham city employees received 2 percent raises this year after three years of no increases. Employees of the Durham Police Department and Durham Fire Department got 3 percent salary increases.

Six department managers in city government got raises of 2.2 to 5.3 percent for various reasons, spokeswoman Beverly Thompson said. For example, one began overseeing the staff of another department that was eliminated during budget cuts.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • tarheelsindurham Dec 5, 2011


  • kermit60 Dec 1, 2011

    when are they going to tell the people about the new tax needed to pay for this?

  • bluemax4195 Dec 1, 2011

    Here's the REAL kicker!

    While County Manager Mike Ruffin got a 10% raise, the clerk to the Board of Commissioners, Michelle Parker-Evans got a 32% raise, and "RETIRING" Sheriff Worth Hill got a 4.25% raise, the rest of Durham County's work force got a 2% PERCENT RAISE!!!!!!

    That's EXACTLY what's wrong with this nation! While the big man sits on his back side in the office and the little man work his fingers to the bone (to make the big man look good) it's always the big man who get the "BIG" raise, while the little man simply gets another slap in the face!

    I ask you... WHERE is the "fairness" in that?! I don't believe there IS any kind of legitimate answer to this! It's simply - WRONG!!!!

  • firemangg Dec 1, 2011

    Working class! Last time I checked most working class don't make 80,000+ a year. If you are going to bring them up to the standards of their peers everyone in public service should be brought up to compete with just city salaries. I won't even go into Wake County.

  • WooHoo2You Dec 1, 2011

    The public sector employees ALWAYS take care of their own. They have no concern that the taxpayers footing the bill may have no job, get no raises, have no benefits, are living hand to mouth. They just want their pay, benefits and perks.-aetius476

    So says the person who is not "in" but out. I do not work for the government however know a few people that work for Wake. If you are not a HIGHER LEVEL person you don't squat for pay, have not had raises in YEARS, do not get a retirement, and the only 'perk' is lower cost (bad coverage) insurance.

    The truth and what you read in blogs don't always match do they?

  • durhamwhiteguy Dec 1, 2011

    What they hint at in this story, but don't really tell you, is that while this lady was making $61,000, someone doing the exact same job in wake county was making $90,000. Instead of focusing on how big of a jump they made, maybe we should be focusing on why this lady was making 30,000 less to do the same job? Maybe that's the problem in Durham... When you severely under pay your employees, the good ones leave. As the story states, even after the 32% raise, she STILL isn't making what they're making in wake county. I'm more upset by her previous salary than I am her current one.

  • aetius476 Dec 1, 2011

    "Employees who do not meet certain expectations receive a smaller raise or no raise at all." - ncnremtp

    Such as breathing or having a pulse.

    When you give someone a checkbook or credit card, and tell them someone else will pay the tab, what do you expect to happen?

    The public sector employees ALWAYS take care of their own. They have no concern that the taxpayers footing the bill may have no job, get no raises, have no benefits, are living hand to mouth. They just want their pay, benefits and perks.

    Once you are "in" your are "in".

  • indrdw Dec 1, 2011

    You are talking about government employees paid by taxpayers whom are hurting and in a lot of cases doing without and lowering their standard of living. Difference is that these so called 'public servants' can give themselves a raise. Shameful.

  • Scubagirl Dec 1, 2011

    "Board of Commissioners, Michelle Parker-Evans, got a 32 percent raise"

    THAT IS ABSURD!!!! While I'm sure Michelle doesn't think so, I have never, in my entire working life, heard of anyone getting that much of a raise at one time.
    This really is a slap in the face to many!

  • ncnremtp Nov 30, 2011

    The rank and file employees do not get automatic, across the board raises. The employee must receive a positive job performance evaluation prior to receive the raise. Employees who do not meet certain expectations receive a smaller raise or no raise at all. In addition,out of pocket insurance premiums have gone up depending on one's needs. So some employees may actually be losing money this fiscal year. Please be accurate in your reporting WRAL and stop trying to stir the pot.