- Published on Wednesday, 26 June 2013 15:43
- Written by Super User
By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH - When the Carolina Beach Town Council adopted their budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year starting July 1, it included a 2% cost of living raise and a 2% merit pay raise for all employees.
That included the paid positions of Mayor and Council.
At the end of a meeting held June 24th, to discuss various infrastructure projects, improvements at the Boardwalk and personnel, the Council inquired about whether or not the pay raises included Council.
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said Tuesday the pay increases were not discussed because no one assumed they would be included when they adopted the budget at their June 11, meeting.
He said at the Monday night meeting, "We wanted to know how it was done in past administrations. We were told past Councils would get the cost of living raise but the Town Clerk was not sure about the merit pay raise."
Merit pay increases are based on review of job performance and there is no review board for Mayor and Council members when considering their annual pay.
Shuttleworth said, "I don't have a problem with not taking it but would leave it up to future council's to decide" on their own pay increases.
Shuttleworth said Mayor Bob Lewis and Councilmembers Sarah Friede, Tom Bridges and Jody Smith all agreed they did not want to take the pay increase.
Councilman Tom Bridges commented to Interim Town Manager Bruce Shell on Saturday June 22, "If I were not new, I would have understood that we were getting the two percent raise. I would have suggested that Council be excluded from that benefit."
Shell explained Tuesday that it was his understanding in previous years cost of living raises included elected leaders annual salaries. As former County Manager for New Hanover County, Shell said the same applied at the County level.
Currently the Mayor makes $8,400 a year with a $3,000 annual car allowance for a total of $11,400.00. That's not including health insurance benefits. Also, the Town has to pay the FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) taxes and Workman’s Compensation and liability insurance. Those actual figures were not available at press time.
Mayor Pro Tem Steve Shuttleworth is paid an annual salary of $7,800 with an annual car allowance of $3,000 for a total of $10,800.00. Again, that's not including FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) taxes and Workman’s Compensation and liability insurance.
Council members Sarah Friede, Tom Bridges and Jody Smith are paid an annual salary of $7,200 with an annual car allowance of $3,000 for a total of $10,200.00.
As of April of this year, Mayor Lewis and Councilmembers Steve Shuttleworth, Sarah Friede and Jody Smith received $430.37 a month for medical insurance and $26.90 a month for dental insurance for a total of $5,487.24 a year in insurance benefits.
Councilman Tom Bridges only took the dental benefit at $26.90 a month ($322.80 a year).
The Workman’s Compensation and Liability Insurance figures were not available at press time. Once those figures are made available, we will publish them.
In response to local resident D.A. Lewis's campaign to have council vote to eliminate health insurance benefits, Mayor Bob Lewis explained earlier this year, "I feel the level of effort, the sacrifice of time away from family and full time careers in my mind supports the benefit which a previous council years ago voted to implement. As I reviewed the timeframe when this benefit was voted into affect it seems to go back 10 years or more. It seemed when council members were required by some government action to move from 1099 contractors to part-time employees the town provided this benefit. One would assume the consideration here was the additional cost of taxes incurred by the individual board member as an employee versus a contractor changed and the town wanted to soften that impact. As a 1099 employee individual can expense every single item against the payment including private home office space as an independent contractor. I can tell you that since I have been on the board I have not billed the town for every expense I have incurred daily. When traveling to attend meetings to support town business outside of Carolina Beach the only time I have billed the town for my expense have been trips to Raleigh and Washington, DC for meetings with our legislators, congressman and senators."
Mayor Lewis explained, "I do not feel it is my place to try to take this benefit away the entire board when I see the effort made by everyone on council everyday to save you and every single taxpayer, property owner, citizen, voter and resident money while providing you more value for your tax dollars. Again I make no excuses for myself or anyone else on council I just state fact and I stand on our results. Federal funding for the current beach nourishment project, funding for the this years Inlet Dredging, cutting the cost of our legal service, cutting the cost of our parking management services, virtually eliminating the cost of the now unfunded Pier Property acquired by a former council while at the same time moving operations and driving economic development in Carolina Beach. Our results speak for themselves their are NO EXCUSES here."
He explained, "Every member of council incurs significant expense almost every week attending meetings all over New Hanover and within our town. As part of their investment in Carolina Beach council
members incur the cost of child care, car expense to and from meetings, parking costs in Wilmington, additional costs of meals which they need to take on the fly instead of making them at home and a huge sacrifice earning money in their full time careers. Numerous members of council work for themselves in a service business and for every hour they spend on town business it cost hours which they could bill a customer for and the result is a smaller paycheck for their family."
Mayor Lewis explained, "When considering being elected to office residents only see that council members by law are only required to attend one meeting a month. But in reality we
have to make numerous appearances to represent our citizens on countywide, state and federal issues. Because of the dedication of everyone on this board each of us are investing 20-25 plus hours per week working for every resident and business owner in our community."
He explained, "We are all just regular residents, taxpayers, voters and local business owners like everyone else we just invest a lot more time in making our community a better place to live. We are your neighbors trying to do the best job we can to ensure that you receive value for your investment in Carolina Beach."