It’s good to be a Guilford County director.
That’s the message an animated Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston gave at the Board of Commissioners Thursday, Oct. 3 meeting where he railed against a new salary plan that he said favored county employees who are already raking in money.
Alston said new salary adjustments recently approved by the Board of Commissioners benefited high-paid employees despite the fact that the pay plan left many county employees, ones in important jobs, making about $13 an hour.
An extensive year-long salary study found – as those studies almost always find – that county employees were underpaid compared to employees in other counties. In response, last month the board approved “Option 1,” a plan meant to make Guilford County employee salaries more competitive with other counties in the state.
However, at the Oct. 3 meeting, Alston pointed out that much of the money went to Guilford County government’s haves rather than the have nots.
“People who are already making big bucks – hundreds of thousands of dollars – we’re rewarding them,” Alston said. “But, at the same time, we don’t want to spend the same amount of taxpayer dollars, or even less, to take care of those that are less fortunate.”
He pointed out that some firefighters on the county’s payroll were making just $13 an hour.
“We can’t even pay the least of these a livable wage,” Alston said, adding that firefighters and other emergency response workers risked their lives doing their jobs.
Last month, the Board of Commissioners approved year one of “Option 1,” a three-year program to up some county wages. These increases come on top of the ordinary merit raises that the employees get annually.
Alston didn’t single out any directors by name at the meeting, but he pointed out that, over the next three years, according to the plan, one high-paid county employee would get a 25 percent pay increase. He called out plenty of other eye-popping increases as well.
Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing is just one of many very high paid county employees who got a big bump in pay under the new plan: Lawing’s salary before the implementation of the first step of the pay study was $209,600 a year and his new salary is $214,400.