Officials: No conflict in Wyche vote for raise

Published 9:53 am Friday, November 4, 2011

COURTLAND—Three Southampton County officials said Capron District Supervisor Moses Wyche did nothing wrong when he supported a 2 percent raise for county and school employees while working himself for the school district.

“Absolutely not,” was County Attorney Richard Railey’s response. “By law, the school board determines how the money is spent. It’s ultimately up to them how to spend the money. He didn’t vote himself a raise.”

The question of a possible conflict of interest surfaced as Wyche seeks a third four-year term on the Board of Supervisors. The 69-year-old, who is challenged by independent Bruce Phillips, 62, works part time for the county school district, transporting special-needs students.

Wyche said when he supported the budget, he didn’t think he would receive a raise.

“I voted for it because the raises was for the teachers,” he said.

County Finance Director Lynette Lowe said Wyche is an employee of the School Board.

“In the budget that was approved by the Board of Supervisors, they only approved a lump sum amount to give to the School Board for operating costs,” Lowe said. “The School Board decides how to use that money. He did not in any way give himself a raise.”

County Administrator Mike Johnson noted that if Wyche makes less than $10,000 a year, that removes the conflict of interest.

“It’s just like when he votes on a tax increase, (which affects him too),” said Johnson, noting this decision was more of a public act than a personal one.

Railey added the raise was not just for Wyche.

“The Board of Supervisors by law increase their salary and members of the General Assembly increase their salaries,” he said.

Joy Carr, director of finance for the school district, did not return a phone call.

The state Attorney General’s office does not get involved in such matters, said spokesman Brian Gottstein.

“Enforcement of the state and local government Conflict of Interests Act against local officers is the province of the local commonwealth’s attorney,” Gottstein said. “This office has no authority to opine.”