Guilford County Sheriff-elect Danny Rogers will take office on Monday, Dec. 3 and, when he does, his salary will be the exact same as Sheriff BJ Barnes’ salary after Barnes served six-terms – 24 years – in the job. Rogers will get paid $158,000 a year, making Rogers the fifth highest-paid county employee.
Rogers will make at least that amount every year for his entire four years in office since state statute prevents the county from reducing that pay once a sheriff is elected. (The Guilford County Board of Commissioners is able to provide pay raises if it decides to do so.)
Guilford County Human Resources Director Karen P. Fishel stated in an email that, “Sheriff Roger’s salary will be equal to Sheriff Barnes’ salary. Per General Statute 153A-92, salary of the newly elected sheriff shall be no less than the salary of the departing sheriff, unless the board of county commissioners adopted a resolution reducing the new sheriff’s pay. To be binding, the resolution must have been adopted at least 14 days before the last day for filing notice of candidacy for the Office of Sheriff. If no such resolution was filed within that time period, the ‘salary, allowances, and other compensation’ of the newly elected sheriff shall be no less than what was provided to the outgoing sheriff.”
Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne also said that, on his interpretation of state law, the new sheriff must be paid the same as the outgoing sheriff and he added that, during a sheriff’s term in office, that salary cannot be lowered.
“You can’t change the salary unless you do so before the filing,” Payne said.
He said he believed the reason behind that law is that legislators were concerned that in some cases a county board of commissioners might attempt to punish an incoming sheriff for political reasons – for instance, perhaps the sheriff is a member of a different political party than the majority of a board. There could be other reasons as well that the state desired to protect the salary of incoming sheriffs.
Of Guilford County government’s roughly 2,300 employees, Rogers will have the fifth highest salary. Only Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing, who makes $203,000 a year, Medical Director Dr. Marie Caro at $182,000, Public Health Director Merle Green, who makes $170,000 a year, and Payne, at $168,000, will make more than Rogers.