About those city salaries

So how much do the members of Asheville City Council and Mayor Terry Bellamy get paid? What about City Manager Gary Jackson and the other department heads? Xpress has compared city salaries with those of two similarly sized North Carolina cities, finding that Asheville’s elected officials make substantially more compensation than their counterparts, while the salaries for top staff are roughly comparable.

With tight budgets, public officials’ salaries have become a public issue. After salary figures were obtained Xpress also got similar figures from Jacksonville (pop. 74,525) and Greenville (pop. 81,747), two North Carolina cities ranked just below and above Asheville in population, respectively.

Asheville pays its Council members and Mayor considerably more than Jacksonville and Greenville. Including a $6,195 expense allownace, Mayor Bellamy gets $24,897 a year in compensation, compared to $15,700 for Greenville’s mayor (including a $3,000 travel allowance) and $10,400 for Jacksonville’s (with a $200 vehicle allowance).

Asheville’s other elected officials also make more than their counterparts in the other two cities. Each of Asheville’s five Council members gets $18,281 in compensation a year, including a $4,475 expense allowance. That’s more than the $11,700 (including $3,000 for travel and $1,200 car allowance) that Greenville’s Council members pull in, and over twice the $7,200, with no expense or vehicle allowance, that Jacksonville’s Council members are paid.

Department heads make roughly similar salaries in Asheville and Greenville, but Asheville has more people in top positions than both cities. (15 compared to Greenville’s 12 and Jacksonville’s 10). Asheville is more likely to give vehicle allowances ranging from $2,400 to $7,200 annually. Greenville makes more extensive use of take-home vehicles for its top staff than Asheville does, though both that city and Jacksonville have some department heads that don’t receive a vehicle allowance at all; all of Asheville’s do.

Of course, population size doesn’t tell the whole story. Cost-of-living, internal organization and political priorities vary widely between cities. The number of years on the job also affects the relative salary for a staff member. Several of Asheville’s department heads — Roderick Simmons, Scott Burnette and Kelley Dickens, for example — are relatively new to their positions, meaning their salary is still at the lower end of the city scale for their respective jobs.

Local government salaries can be a contentious issue. One argument used for higher salaries for local elected officials is that it makes holding office more viable for those who aren’t wealthy, and defenders of local government salaries often cite the need to offer competitive compensation with the private sector to avoid turn-over and attract qualified people to staff positions.

But it is also the public’s money and critics of local government often assert that greater scrutiny is needed, or that staff and elected officials are overpaid compared to the level of service citizens receive.

Full salary figures below.

— David Forbes, senior news reporter


Mayor Terry Bellamy
Salary: $18,792
Expense Allowance:  $6,195

Vice-Mayor Brownie Newman
Salary: $15,596
Expense Allowance:  $4,475

Council Members Cecil Bothwell, Jan Davis, Esther Manheimer, Gordon Smith and Bill Russell
Salary:  $13,806
Expense Allowance:  $4,475

Department head Salary Vehicle allowance
Judy Daniel, Director of Planning and Development $108,675.00 $4,800
Jonathan Feldman, Director of Information Technology $112,753.36 $2,400
Sam Powers, Director of Economic Dev/Civic Center $104,715.19 $2,400
Bill Hogan, Chief of Police $122,109.77 Take home
Roderick Simmons, Director of Parks and Rec $95,000.00 $4,800
Ken Putnam, Director of Transportation $111,558.13 $4,850
Stephen Shoaf, Director of Water Resources $115,000.00 $4,800
James Griffin, Director of Building Safety $101,857.95 $4,800
Jeff Richardson, Assistant City Manager $133,228.24 $6,000
Scott Burnette, Fire Chief $96,809.70 Take home
Lauren Bradley, Director of Administrative Services $95,000.00 $2,400
Cathy Ball, Director of Public Works and Enginering $127,131.25 $4,800
Kelley Dickens, Director of Human Resources $95,000.00 $2,400
Gary Jackson, City Manager $168,324.00 $7,200
Bob Oast, City Attorney $135,000.00 $2,400M


Mayor:  $11,500, $1,200 annual car allowance;
$3,000 budgeted for out-of-town travel

Mayor Pro-Tem:
Salary: $7,800, $1,200 annual car allowance;
$3,000 budgeted for out-of-town travel

Council Members (5)
Salary: $7,500 + $1,200 annual car allowance;
$3,000 budgeted for out-of-town travel

Department Heads Salary Vehicle allowance
Assistant City Manager $138,611.20 None
Director Public Works $137,592.00 $3,600
Chief of Police $126,152.00 Take home
Chief of Fire/Rescue $99,985.60 Take home
Director Recreation & Parks $126,713.60 $3,600
Director Financial Services $127,545.60 $1,500
Director Information Technology $127,483.20 None
Director Human Resources $124,820.80 None
Director, Community Development $117,478.40 None
City Attorney $146,265.60 $2,400
City Manager $167,377.60 Take home


Salary: $10,200
Vehicle allowance: $200.00

Council member
Salary: $7,200
Vehicle allowance: N/A

Department Heads Salary Vehicle allowance
City Manager $130,000.00 $500
Assistant City Manager $117,808.35 $500
Director Information Technology $110,700.35 None
Fire Chief $105,541.33 None
Police Chief $102,600.62 None
Public Services Director $101,778.19 None
Planning, Dev Services Direct $95,701.26 None
Recreation and Parks Director $95.087.46 None
Human Resources Director $84,785.64 None
Community Affairs Director $82,820.24 None



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4 thoughts on “About those city salaries

  1. indy499

    Why would you want a $10,400 mayor? $25 k for Mayor Bellamy plus some expenses is a bargain.

  2. Around DOUBLE of comparably populated cities…????? Oh my, who’d a thought, it’s not a full time position, izzit? What about travel details, mileage reports, etc? Is the mayor traveling in her business limo and collecting from the city???

  3. CityRez

    The extraneous department head positions failed to include the most critical public agency position of finance department director which the city fails to fill, allowing them to continually miss use public funds. That makes 16.
    Why is it that the city is allowed to carry on without a qualified finance officer but add manufactured management and director positions at will amidst a hiring and pay freeze? I think employees that haven’t seen even a cost of living increase in years should have a problem with these entitlement positions with their excessive pay and car allowances. Perhaps a little more digging is in order mountain x.

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