The Guilford County salary list for the 2017-2018 budget year doesn’t have any big surprises but does indicate a trend in government salaries at every level, which continues whether the government is run by Democrats or Republicans.
People complain about the wide gap in the private sector between the top administrators and the workers. The gap in local governments is not as wide, but it continues to get wider every year.
For the first time, the Guilford County manager is being paid over $200,000 a year plus benefits. Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing was paid $203,000 this year. In 2017, Lawing was paid $197,000 so he received about a 3 percent raise. A 3 percent raise is certainly not outrageous, but if county employees continue receive the same percentage raise then the gap between those at the top and those at the bottom of the pay scale gets wider. In this case Lawing received a $6,000 raise, while those at the other end of the pay scale receiving the same 3 percent raise get an increase of $900. So the gap between the administrators and the workers got larger.
Also it is worth noting that while the Greensboro city manager and the Guilford County manager are paid about the same amount, the jobs are entirely different. Everyone who works for Greensboro, with the exception of the city attorney, works for the city manager. The city manager is responsible for the entire city budget. In the county, about 44 percent of the budget is handed over to the schools and the county manager has no control over how that money is spent or the school employees who spend it. The superintendent of schools works for the Guilford County Board of Education, not the county manager.
The Greensboro police chief and all the employees of the Greensboro Police Department work for the city manager. The Guilford County sheriff, BJ Barnes, is an elected official who works for the people of Guilford County. The Guilford County manager can’t hire or fire the sheriff or any of his employees. The Sheriff’s Department budget is another big chunk taken out of the Guilford County budget that the manager doesn’t directly control.
The top salaries in the Guilford County list are pretty much what would be expected, with the notable exception of the second highest paid county employee Public Health Director Merle Green at $170,000 a year. Green is not a department head but runs a division of the Human Services Department, which has no department head and hasn’t had one in years. The other half of the Human Services Department is the Social Services Department and Social Services Director Heather Skeens is paid $129,000. So that’s a pretty large gap between the two division directors in one department.
Otherwise, the list is about what you would expect with the raises over last year at about 3 percent. Third on the list is County Attorney Mark Payne at $168,000 and fourth is Barnes at $158,000.
Deputy County Manager Clarence Grier is fifth at $155,000.
One name missing from the top of the list is Robert McNiece, the facilities, parks and property management director who resigned in May and was being paid $134,000.
A new name on the list is Animal Services Director Jorge Ortega, who is paid $120,000.
No county salary list would be complete without mentioning that a Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen, aka “Mr. Deeds,” who is an elected official and does not report to the county manager and is being paid $122,000.
For a complete list of the salaries of Guilford County’s 2,401 employees, click on the link below.