S’hampton boards asked to give up pay

Published 1:52 pm Saturday, September 8, 2012

COURTLAND—A Southampton County government watchdog group has asked supervisors and members of county boards and commissions to give up their pay for three years.

Doing so could save the county more than $300,000, said Joe Vick, president of Citizens for Responsible Government.

“In three years, we expect the state revenue to get back online and hopefully businesses will kick in here,” Vick said.

Supervisors Barry Porter, Glenn Updike and Bruce Phillips during budget talks this spring gave up their $458 monthly pay. Dr. Alan Edwards, who as the board’s vice chairman received a higher salary, also gave up his $558 monthly pay.

Supervisors Dallas Jones and Ronnie West will not follow suit.

“The county is not broke,” said Jones, who as the board’s chairman is paid $608 a month. “We got debt. We have a healthy amount of money we can fall back on.”

He noted that a lot of counties pay their supervisors more money and that a plan is in place to pay off the county’s $70 million debt within 30 years.

“If we don’t borrow another dime, we won’t owe anybody anything,” said Jones, who represents the Drewryville District.

West said he would be willing to take a 10 percent cut in his $458 monthly pay.

“I can say under some circumstances I wouldn’t give it back,” the Berlin-Ivor District representative said. “I don’t see us as financially strapped as a lot of people think.”

He noted that he spends a lot time attending meetings and driving his vehicle, using his money for gas.

“If you think we are being overpaid at $5,500 (a year), so be it,” West said.

School Board member Lynn Bradley, who represents the Franklin District, would be willing to give up her $5,000 annual pay if that’s what the majority of the board wanted.

“To tell you the truth, I didn’t take this as a moneymaking position anyway,” Bradley said.

The issue has not been discussed during a school board meeting, she said.

Capron District School Board Member Jim Pope would give up his pay.

“I didn’t take the position to make money,” Pope said. “I did it to try to help the kids in the county.”

“I think we take home $336 a month, which will not get the county out of debt,” he continued. “But if the Citizens for Responsible Government think it’s the right step, I don’t mind doing it.”

Planning Commission member Oliver Parker had not heard about the request, which Vick made during a recent Board of Supervisors meeting.

“This is my first time hearing this,” said Parker, who is paid $60 a month for attending a meeting. “If it’s discussed and it’s something the majority wants to go along with, I wouldn’t have a problem. I can live with it.”

Planning Commission member Jack Randall wouldn’t hesitate to give up his $60 monthly pay.

“I have no problem with that,” Randall said. “I think it’s good for public policy. The county is in a very significant crunch.”