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New Hires For N.C. Lottery Commission Also Can Get Bonuses

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina lottery commission gave its chief executive authority Thursday to hire nearly 60 employees at salaries up to $174,000 and pay them thousands of dollars in bonuses for getting the first tickets sold by April 5.
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    At the first meeting with executive director Tom Shaheen on the job, the commission agreed to let him fill 18 executive-level positions and about 40 other management jobs.

    Like Shaheen, everyone who is hired before late March will be eligible for a bonus for meeting the April deadline. People hired before early February could receive between $1,000 to $16,000. The bonus will be reduced if the deadline is not met.

    "We will be bringing in people, and they'll be working long hours ... They're going to be working long hours everyday," Shaheen said in defending a flat bonus compared to one based on a percentage of worker salaries. "Once you reach the door, everybody is putting in the same time and energy."

    The commission gave Shaheen the power to hire six deputy directors at salaries of $110,000 to $145,000 and twelve directors under them who would earn $80,000 to $120,000. About 40 workers will make between $50,000 and $90,000.

    Shaheen, who will receive a $235,000 salary and up to a $50,000 bonus, could offer up to 20 percent more than the advertised salary range with the approval of a commission subcommittee. The salary ranges were based on average salaries at lotteries in Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee, Shaheen said.

    The six deputy directors will report directly to Shaheen and be assigned to sales; marketing and advertising; finance and administration; management information systems, legal and security issues; and legislative and corporate communications.

    Shaheen said he hoped to hire deputies to report to work by the end of the month. He expected that the deputy directors probably will come out-of-state because starting up a lottery in the past is a huge asset.

    "We're going to really need somebody with those specific disciplines," he said.

    Job descriptions for the other positions haven't been given final approval, but there should be no shortage of applicants. The commission already has received more than 400 resumes. Between 200 and 300 people ultimately will be hired by the lottery.

    "There's a lot of interest," commission chairman Charles Sanders said after the telephone meeting.

    The lottery law signed in August allows the commission to borrow up to $10 million from the state for startup and other costs, including salaries, until the lottery begins selling tickets. The money must be repaid with interest. The commission decided to draw down between $2 million and $3 million in a soon-to-be-created checking account.

    Beside the new hires, Shaheen said he's focused on drafting the application for retailers who want to sell tickets; locating space for lottery offices in other parts of the state; and working up procurement contracts.

    The vendor contracts could generate millions of dollars annually for those who operate the games and will be watched closely as one potential vendor -- Scientific Games Corp. -- is being investigated for current lobbying law violations.

    The panel Thursday also agreed to ask the Attorney General's Office to hire two lawyers for the commission, one of them a temporary outside counsel to deal with lottery startup issues.

    Shaheen said he expected a multistate lottery game such as Mega Millions of Powerball could start in North Carolina in July.

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