Buncombe Register of Deeds among highest-paid in state

Whoever emerges from the struggle to succeed outgoing Buncombe Register of Deeds Otto DeBruhl will inherit a well-funded office. DeBruhl is one of the highest-paid registers in the state, with one of the largest, most highly-compensated staffs.

According to figures from the School of Government at UNC Chapel Hill, DeBruhl makes $128,850 a year. By comparison, Wake County’s register of deeds makes $110,777, Guilford County’s register makes $103,117 and Mecklenburg, the most populous county in the state, has an average compensation of $88,844 (though it has gone as high as $133,266) for its register of deeds.

DeBruhl’s staff also do quite well, and is one of the largest, highest-paid in the state. The documents reveal the DeBruhl’s office has 20 deputy staff, making between $34,041 to $56,794 a year. By comparison, Wake County employs 26 deputies making $25,500 to $42,500 a year and Guilford has 19 deputies making $32,345 to $54,987. DeBruhl’s long time Assistant Register of Deeds JoAnne Morgan, who is vying to replace him, earns $73,216 a year.

DeBruhl has occupied the office for 32 years, and announced his retirement on Jan. 31.

— David Forbes, senior news reporter


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15 thoughts on “Buncombe Register of Deeds among highest-paid in state

  1. Agnes Cheek

    It seems as though nearly *all* of the Buncombe positions that are elected positions are “among the highest paid in the state” including Wanda Greene and her $208,624 salary. There are only 3 other counties that compare and the population density is far greater. In Mecklenburg county with a population of around 1,120,000 the county manager receives $242,500. How can Buncombe be “looking for new revenue sources,” (along with Asheville city doing the same) when all of these positions are already paid for by said “revenue sources,” ie; YOU.
    The inability of elected leaders in both the city and county to understand how to live within their (our) means is not even entirely their fault. What you also see on display is the irresponsibility and apathy of the voters and non voters alike.
    If you’re interested in looking through counties and salary spread sheets, the full link to their source is http://www.sog.unc.edu/pubs/electronicversions/csalindex.htm

  2. Agnes thanks for the prodding…people need to wake up!

    In my brief history (2 year)as an activist it’s become too apparent that this community is under the deeply entrenched good ole boy and girl system of governing. It’s flat out appaling!

  3. shadmarsh

    well,I guess this kind of explains why I only made $7.25 an hour as a Buncombe county library employee.

  4. indy499

    Looks like a great opportunity to save taxpayer $s. Where are the county commissioners and why aren’t they watching our store?

  5. RightON

    Sounds to me like there needs to be some serious questions asked and investigation into all management salaries in Buncombe County.

  6. little sister

    This is a bit off-topic and goes back to the original C-T expose.

    The Clerk to the Board of Commissioners in Buncombe earns a base salary of $101,479 annually, the highest in the state and approx. twice that earned by her counterparts. [The Clerk records Minutes at Commissioner meetings and such.]


    It appears that County employees are doing more than well in management positions across-the-board.

    It makes sense for elected officials to be compensated generously to allow a more open field of candidates, but certain staff salaries seem rather inflated for the market and locale.

  7. WNCDemocrat

    Before slamming the Register of Deeds office salaries, lets remember a few things.

    First, Otto DeBruhl was in office for 33 years, longer than any other of the other Registers of Deeds you mention. Many people’s salaries increase due to cost of living adjustments and merit pay increases. Multiply that by 33 of service (plus additional years as a Buncombe County magistrate) then then one could see why his salary has gone up over the years. When the new budget goes into effect July 1, it is a certain that the salary of the new Register of Deeds will be lower. In fact we saw that when a new Register of Deeds was elected in Mecklenburg.

    Second, almost all of Otto’s staff have been there over 15 years or more. JoAnn has been in the office for 32 years. Many of the staff have gotten a great deal of specialized training, in addition, department heads in the office supervise on average 6 employees a piece. These are not simply clerical jobs, they are skilled professionals that are charged with maintaining and securing essential documents used by the public.

    Thirdly, the Register of Deeds Office is the only county office that brings in more money then they expend, averaging more then $3 million each year in revenue, with over $1 million of that going into the county general fund.

    Finally, the office is currently making deep cuts in its budget, including staff, with several retiring in the next few months.

    And on another note, why hasn’t a meeting of the Buncombe County Democratic Party Executive Committee been called to fill the remainder of Otto’s term? This is supposed to be done within 30 days of an announced resignation and yet neither the public nor members of the party have heard when this meeting will take place. I could encourage the Mountain Express to look into this.

  8. WNC Dem, the meeting has been called for Feb. 23, 6:30 p.m. at Buncombe Dem HQ. It took the administrators some time to sort through rules, confirm qualified voters, answer questions from candidates.

  9. Just Me

    Hmm.. I wonder what the county would say to outside agencies who receive their funding if they paid their specialized and professional staff so well?

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