Local Politics

Wake commissioners vote down pay cuts, but two agree to take less

Posted March 23, 2009

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— Wake County commissioners voted against taking a pay cut Monday evening but agreed that the commissioners could volunteer for pay reductions.

The vote was 4-2 against Commissioner Joe Bryan's proposal to shave 10 percent from commissioners' $19,095 annual salaries.

After the vote, Commissioner Tony Gurley joined Bryan in agreeing to cut their pay. The two were the only ones to vote in favor of the measure.

Commissioners Lindy Brown, Stan Norwalk, Betty Lou Ward and Harold Webb voted against the pay cut. Commissioner Paul Coble was not present at the meeting.

Based on lagging revenue from sales taxes and real estate deed stamps, fiscal analysts projected a budget shortfall of at least $23 million for the 2008-09 year. County departments have cut their budgets by 4 percent and started to prepare for possible 10 percent cuts in the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

When he proposed the cut, Bryan said it would have symbolic significance for taxpayers facing economic hardships.

“Often times, you will hear elected officials say, ‘We understand. We feel what is going on.’ Here is a case where we can actually lead by example,” he said.

Earlier in March, Commissioner Lindy Brown said she opposed the pay cut because she had quit her job to dedicate more time to public service. The cuts wouldn't have an immediate effect, since they would have to be put into the next budget, she said.

The county has projected a budget $965 million for 2009-2010. Officials have said that 10 percent cut could mean layoffs, termination of vacant positions and the closure of some public libraries.

In other cost-cutting measures, the county implemented a hiring freeze, leaving 149 positions vacant. The Wake County School system, Wake Technical Community College and other programs returned a combined $6 million that they had been allocated.

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  • Nancy Mar 24, 2009

    "Just because someone is a "public servant" doesn't mean they should do so for free. Servants are normally paid in private residences, after all.

    I see several major problems with not paying our elected officials for the work they do for us. First is that only rich people would be able to afford to do this. Second, it would open the door to more problems with conflicts of interest. Additionally, you get what you pay for."

    tallwillow, I think you are confused about what public service is all about.

    It was never intended that any stipend given an elected official should be considered a living wage, ever. Now, add to the pay they receive the reimbursed mileage, travel, lodging and other expenses and you don't have to worry about much.

  • TallWillow Mar 24, 2009

    "NO elected official is supposed to make a living off elected office, although you'd be hard pressed to see that in ANY elected offices outside of small town municipalities." Nancy

    Not so! How many Senators or Representatives have outside jobs? Should the Governor have another job?

    Just because someone is a "public servant" doesn't mean they should do so for free. Servants are normally paid in private residences, after all.

    I see several major problems with not paying our elected officials for the work they do for us. First is that only rich people would be able to afford to do this. Second, it would open the door to more problems with conflicts of interest. Additionally, you get what you pay for.

    So, did everyone who's calling for term limits vote? That's how we end the terms of someone we don't think is representing us well. Shoot, if they couldn't run again, they'd have even less incentive to do a good job. Do we really want that?

  • Nancy Mar 24, 2009

    bmkm posted in part: "The WRAl article leaves out some of the facts, read the News and Observer article to get the rest of the story. The two that voted yes have high paying jobs elsewhere so a 10% pay cut on their commissioner salary would not effect them the same way that it would for the others"

    EXCEPT all elected officials are there to perform public service, the job isn't for the money as much as it's SUPPOSED to be they acting as public servants, representatives of their voters.

    NO elected official is supposed to make a living off elected office, although you'd be hard pressed to see that in ANY elected offices outside of small town municipalities.

  • cameragirl Mar 24, 2009

    I applaud the two that voted to reduce their salaries and then did so even though the rest of the Board did not. Ms. Brown needs to get a life and another job. Let's all remember this at election time. Betty Lou Ward is in my district. I'll definitely vote against her next time. This is supposed to be PUBLIC SERVICE and not your primary job. If they were truly a public servant then they would take no pay at all for doing what they do. Others with Wake County only make a per diem when they are actually at a Board Meeting. $50 for an all day meeting is peanuts but that is what they get.

    Let's be sure to campaign against those that would not take a pay cut like the rest of the North Carolinians are having to do.

  • emtp2k Mar 24, 2009

    In a time when they are looking at possibly laying off or furloughing some workers, I think it's imperative they all take a pay cut. We need to remember the ones that refused. If you say the 19K is peanuts they knew that taking the job and knew the job wasn't a full time paying one.

  • whatelseisnew Mar 24, 2009

    bmkm174 - this is not supposed to be their primary jobs. Clearly a political ploy on the part of DEMs to suckle off the public dole as is usual.

  • Eduardo1 Mar 24, 2009

    it would only be symbolic of course. Since if all 6 took the cut, it would only amount to a gross total of less than $12,000 for the group.

  • are you kidding me Mar 24, 2009

    I think we have identified the problem. This group needs term limits. They are done. The lights are off there! God help us!

  • Legio VI Mar 24, 2009

    Read and re-read ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell. There are a set of rules for them and another for us........ Remember this when elections roll around.

  • RonnieR Mar 24, 2009

    All four Dems opposed it, isn't that a surprise? Dems are good for telling folks what to do, but not too good at setting examples.

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