Now and then

When it comes to their own pay, some Buncombe County Board of Commissioners actions — or lack thereof — contradict what they said they'd do during last year's campaign.

At their Aug. 27 meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to allow each board member the right to accept or refuse a 1.7 percent cost-of-living raise each year — the same amount given to county employees. The vote comes amid ongoing public criticism, however, that the commissioners’ salaries are already among the highest in the state.

Commissioner Mike Fryar was the only board member to state that he intends to refuse the raise, noting that during last year's campaign he touted the idea of cutting board salaries. During the 2012 campaign, Xpress asked all the candidates about the issue. Here's a roundup of their responses last year.

Xpress: Do you support raising, maintaining or decreasing the commissioners’ total compensation, including all stipends and allowances? Why?

David Gantt: On Feb. 15, 2011, I voted to decrease my allowances by $12,480, or about 30 percent. I do not think commissioners should be paid at the top of the 100 counties and would consider further reductions to make us proportionate with our population size and responsibilities.

Holly Jones: Yes. Reducing by 17 percent would put Buncombe in line with other N.C. counties our size.

Brownie Newman: The amount the commissioners used to pay themselves was overboard and a poor use of taxpayers' money. I support the proposal made by Holly Jones this fall to further reduce the compensation to make it more consistent with the rest of North Carolina.

Ellen Frost: I support maintaining the current rate. The current board of commissioners adjusted the salary, stipends and compensation, and with this adjustment, I believe it is a fair salary.

Mike Fryar: Decreasing these allowances due to their compensation/stipends were in excess of other commissioners throughout the state. This should be to serve the citizens of Buncombe County and not for personal financial gain.

David King: Without having served in this position, it is difficult to know if the current salary is appropriate . At this time, I support maintaining the current salary until an evaluation of the job requirements can be made.

Joe Belcher: I have no problem reducing the pay if needed. Why? I did not take this position to negotiate pay for myself but to negotiate savings for the citizens.

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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