In 2009, after selling my company, I had to purchase my own health insurance. I remember telling my friend, Judy, a New Jersey teacher, that I didn’t want to pay for her and her family’s complete health care for the rest of my life. It was one reason my husband and I decided to leave New Jersey.
Now residents of Buncombe County, we’re facing the same issue with county-employee pay. The average Buncombe County employee makes far more than the average resident. County employees also have a lavish benefit package worth, on average, 48 percent of their salary. This means the average Buncombe County employee makes $51,422 a year in salary and benefits versus $42,500 for the average resident. Hourly, this translates to $36.59 for the average county employee versus $20.43 for the average resident. Because taxpayers pay county employees’ salaries and benefits, how can we continue to justify paying these folks on average 79 percent more?
I’m not saying that all Buncombe County employees are overpaid, but I suspect there are far too many high-paid county employees. How long can we expect taxpayers, who are making substantially less, to continue to fund the lavish salary and benefits for county employees? Perhaps it’s time for a comprehensive compensation study performed countywide and conducted by an independent professional company?
— Linda Southard