Breaking Down Salaries of WNC Cities, Towns: Part 2

Published Monday, April 24, 2017 at 11:53 am

Editor’s note: This article is the second of two examining salaries for elected officials and public employees in cities and towns in the 19-county Western North Carolina region. The first article looked at municipalities with more than 4,000 residents, according to the North Carolina state demographer’s estimate of mid-2015. This article examines municipalities with 400 to 3,900 residents. Carolina Public Press found that municipalities with less than 400 residents did not have many employees and generally did not have substantial salaries for elected town officials.

BY MICHAEL GEBELEIN / Carolina Public Press

A Carolina Public Press analysis of the salaries paid to municipal employees in the smaller cities and towns in the region has shown significant differences in the ways taxpayer dollars are spent in cities of less than 4,000 residents.

A similar analysis of municipal salaries in the region’s 17 largest cities, published in March, revealed that employees of the city of Asheville, regardless of position, were some of the highest paid in the region. Of the 10 highest-paid employees of the region’s smaller cities, four are also employed by towns in Buncombe County. Two are employees of Highlands, a resort town of less than 1,000 permanent residents in Macon County, the others are town administrators in Blowing Rock, Lake Lure, Murphy and Drexel.

Weaverville Town Manager Selena Coffey tops the list among these employees of smaller towns with a salary of $107,590 per year, followed by Weaverville Police Chief Greg Stephens, who is paid $105,036 per year, making him the highest-paid law enforcement officer in the region’s smaller cities.

Highlands Town Manager Joshua Ward is paid a salary of $101,000 per year. The addition of $6,300 in annual bonuses makes him the second highest-paid municipal employee. Highlands Public Works Director Tony Laughter is paid $100,817 annually, and also receives nearly $1,500 in bonuses.

Stephens is the only police chief in the region who is paid more than $100,000 per year. Biltmore Forest’s Eric Tinsley, the next highest-paid police chief, receives $71,656 annually. Police chiefs in Maggie Valley, Blowing Rock, Montreat, Tryon, Laurel Park, Banner Elk, Highlands and Lake Lure are all paid between $60,000 and $70,000 per year. Hot Springs Police Chief David Shelton is the lowest paid in the region, at $34,236 per year.

Each city has an elected town council and the vast majority of those officials receive a small salary as well. William Hughes, the mayor of Murphy, is the highest-paid elected official in the region’s smaller cities, and he is the only one making more than $10,000 per year, with an annual salary of $10,660. Andrews Mayor Nancy Curtis is paid $7,425 annually and Maggie Valley Mayor Saralyn Price receives $7,269 per year. Clyde Mayor Jerry Walker is paid $6,458 per year and the members of the town’s board of aldermen receive $6,458 per year, making them the highest-paid board members in the region.

Town councils in Elk Park, Hildebran, Webster, Bakersville, Ellenboro, Rutherford College and Forest Hills are each paid less than $1,000 per year.

Salary table by town

Listed under each city name are the salaries for its elected officials, followed by its top 10 salaried employees. Several towns have fewer than 10 altogether. In cases where a part-time employee with an hourly wage is included, the rankings may be based on an estimate. An asterisk (*) denotes towns that did not respond to requests for information before publication. Their information will be added if it is provided. All of the details included here are subject to North Carolina open records laws; in theory any person should be able to request and receive this information regarding any local government entity in the state, large or small. CPP staff sent out initial requests for information two months prior to publication.

Andrews (population 1,785, Cherokee County)

Mayor, $7,425; 4 aldermen, $4,800

  1. Darrell McGaha, water plant, $69,824.30
  2. Edward Burchins, Edward Town administrator $63,671.34
  3. William Bateman, water plant, $46,748.20
  4. Timothy Wood, sewer plant, $46,584.60
  5. Richard Taylor, chief of police, $45,944.96
  6. Jake Buchanan, public works director, $43,795.70
  7. Jeff Brown, police officer, $43,159.54
  8. Ethan Henderson, police sergeant, $42,184.94
  9. Andrew Sampson, police sergeant, $41,551.32
  10. Denise Bowden, town clerk, $39,120.83

Bakersville (population 469, Mitchell County)

Mayor, $4,800; 3 council members, $600

  1. James Ramsey, chief of police, $39,917
  2. Crystal Young, town clerk, $34,716
  3. Bryan Brewer, firefighter, $26,000
  4. Eddie Wise, maintenance, $23,621
  5. Jamison Burleson, part-time maintenance, $9/hour
  6. Gary Hyatt, part-time operator, $10,000

Banner Elk (population 1,161, Avery County)

Mayor, 3,600; 5 council members, $1,800

  1. Rich Owen, town manager, $75,456.37
  2. Byron Clawson, chief of police, $63,273.81
  3. Earl Turbyfill, public works supervisor, $61,143.33
  4. Kevin Hodges, police lieutenant, $50,321.23
  5. Cheryl Buchanan, zoning administrator/revenue collector, $48,813.23
  6. Orrie Smith, police sergeant, $44,284.45
  7. Stephen Petty, police sergeant, $40,221.58
  8. Dustin Beam, police officer, $38,582.54
  9. Cody Fields, police officer, $36,748.82
  10. Justin Spear, police officer, $36,748.82

Biltmore Forest (population 1,400, Buncombe County)

Mayor, $6,000; 3 commissioners, $4,500

  1. Jonathan Kanipe, town administrator, $90,854, $3,000 car allowance
  2. Eric Tinsley, chief of police, $71,656
  3. Terry Crouch, public services/safety director, $64,982
  4. Helen Stephens, assistant to town administrator, $62,340
  5. Steve Ayres, public services supervisor, $54,507
  6. Mark Allen, police lieutenant, $52,737
  7. David Arrington, public services technician, $52,682
  8. Austin Tucker, public services/water ORC, $49,936
  9. Shane Burrell, police sergeant, $48,973
  10. John Driver, police sergeant, $48,969

Blowing Rock (population 1,287, Watauga and Caldwell counties)

Mayor, $3,600; 5 council members, $2,400

  1. Harold Evans, town manager, $88,000
  2. Michael Wilcox, public works/utilities director, $68,823.56
  3. David Jones, chief of police, $66,352.78
  4. Kent Graham, fire chief, $61,286.94
  5. Kevin Rothrock, planning director, $60,838.70
  6. Nicole Norman, finance officer, $56,609.80
  7. Christopher Blackburn, public works superintendent, $56,097.64
  8. John Warren, building inspector, $55,744
  9. Jennifer Brown, parks and recreation director, $48,809.28
  10. Aaron Miller, police captain, $47,910.20

Bryson City (population 1,542, Swain County)

Mayor, $3,879; Mayor pro-tem, $3,103; 3 aldermen, $2,328

  1. Chad Simons, Town manager, $67,000.96
  2. Greg Jones, Chief of police, $47,416.59
  3. Lamar Williams, Wastewater and water superintendent, $46,999.68
  4. Tom Shook, Public works supervisor, $44,761.60
  5. Brian Jenkins, Assistant police chief, $39,235.95
  6. Russell Ball, Water plant operator, $37,814.40
  7. Adam Smith, Police detective, $34,500.96
  8. Travis McCall, Public works foreman, $32,739.20
  9. Josh Freeman, Police officer, $32,522.49
  10. Jonathan Cloer, Police officer, $32,522.49

Burnsville (population 1,703, Yancey County)

Mayor, $4,651; 4 councilors $3,181

  1. Ronnie Tipton, public works director, $47,715.20
  2. Michael Brian Buchanan, chief of police, $46,013.50
  3. Jeanne Martin, town clerk, $43,180.80
  4. Leslie Crowder, finance officer, $39,457.60
  5. Richard Crout, water plant operator, $39,416
  6. Christopher Wilson, water foreman, $39,374
  7. Jonathan England, code enforcement officer, $38,812.80
  8. Randall Shuford, police detective, $38,563.20
  9. Jonathan Chad Fox, town center manager, $38,084.80
  10. Jonathan Bennett & Jason Chandler, police sergeants, $37,315.20 each

Columbus (population 979, Polk County)

Mayor, $6,000; 4 council members, $6,000

  1. Timothy J. Barth, town manager, $59,010
  2. Chris Beddingfied, chief of Police, $55,619
  3. James Smith, public works director, $42,588
  4. Jason Phillips, wastewater treatment plant ORC, $40,706
  5. Ricky McGuin, public works, $36,566
  6. Jason Case, police lieutenant, $36,400
  7. Kenneth Hamby, police sergeant, $34,112
  8. Monica Greene, town clerk, $33,862
  9. Dwayne Elliot, public works, $32,760
  10. Cody Gordon, police officer, $31,616

Clyde (population 1,232, Haywood County)

Mayor, $6458.64; 4 aldermen, $6214.14

  1. Andrea Garland, town administrator, $65,903.86
  2. Terry Troutman, chief of police, $53,796.28
  3. Erick Ohliger, maintenance supervisor, $44,231.98
  4. Jason West, police officer, $37,490.74
  5. Sheila Kirkpatrick, town clerk, $36,462.85
  6. Jerry Green, maintenance department, $35,588.03
  7. Dean Henline, police officer, $35,113.75
  8. Matthew Pressley, maintenance, $26,100.17
  9. Christopher Adams, part-time police officer, $22,711
  10. Joshua Putnam, maintenance, $12,553.14

Drexel (population 1,842, Burke County)

Mayor, $3,628; 4 aldermen, $3,109

  1. Sherri Bradshaw, town manager, $81,032
  2. Roger Burleson, public works director, $62,279
  3. Sherry Dula, town clerk, $56,489
  4. Craig Treadway, chief of police, $53,799
  5. Kenny Harney, senior power linesman, $53,799
  6. Travis Butler, police sergeant, $42,153
  7. Eric Hildebran, patrolman, $40,146
  8. Matthew Auton, patrolman, $40,146
  9. Don Barker, W/S distribution operator, $40,146
  10. Mason Eastwood, patrolman, $39,359

Elk Park (population 450, Avery County)

Mayor, $3,600; 5 aldermen, $900

  1. Otis Ward, utilities supervisor, $17.11/hour
  2. Mike Ellenburg, chief of police, $15/hour
  3. Connie Guinn, town clerk, $15/hour
  4. Tyler Boone, maintenance supervisor, $14/hour

Ellenboro (population 879, Rutherford County)

Mayor, $1,200; 4 council members, $600

  1. Alberta Madigan, utility billing/assistant clerk, $35,700
  2. Teresa Panther, town clerk/finance officer, $34,000
  3. Billy Holland, maintenance, $11,310
  4. Robert Carpenter,maintenance, $11,310

Flat Rock (population 3,275, Henderson County)

Mayor, $6,000; 6 council members, $3,000

  1. Judy Boleman, administrator and zoning administrator, $63,000
  2. Michell Parker, village clerk, $49,500
  3. Martha Orr, tax collector and deputy village clerk, $43,000

*Glen Alpine (population 1,535, Burke County)

Highlands (population 928, Macon and Jackson counties)

Mayor, $5,000; 5 commissioners, $3,600

  1. Joshua Ward, town manager, $101,000, $6,304 bonuses or allowances
  2. Stephen Nix, public works director, $100,817.60, $1,494 bonuses or allowances
  3. Rebecca Shuler, finance director/town clerk, $80,766.40, $354 bonuses or allowances
  4. Randy Feierabend, planning and development director/code enforcement officer, $77,646.40, $104 bonuses or allowances
  5. James McCall, electric distribution superintendent, $75,108.80, $350 bonuses or allowances
  6. Matthew Shuler, information technologies director, $73,465.60, $1,031.20 bonuses or allowances
  7. Gregory James, electric distribution crew chief, $69,596.80, $350 bonuses or allowances
  8. David Leffler, electrical line technician first class, $66,268.80, $350 bonuses or allowances
  9. Rodney Talley, electrical line technician first class $66,248, $350 bonuses or allowances
  10. William Harrell, chief of police, $63,232, $300, $104

Hildebran (population 1,978, Burke County)

Mayor, $2,400; Mayor pro-tem, $900; 4 council members, $600

  1. Fredrick Rankins, finance officer, deputy clerk, deputy tax collector, $48,963.20
  2. Alice Sanders, town clerk, tax collector, $41,828.80
  3. Bobby Bivens, maintenance, $37,148.80
  4. Laurie Brawley, administrative assistant for events and facilities, $33,342.40

Hot Springs (population 573, Madison County)

Mayor, $2,700; 3 aldermen, $2,400

  1. David Shelton, chief of police, $34,236.80
  2. Larry Ricker, maintenance, $28,392
  3. Clara Ramsey, tax collector, $26,702
  4. Nancy Thomas, town clerk, $26,702
  5. Greg Hicks, maintenance, $19,656

Lake Lure (population 1,210, Rutherford County)

Mayor, $3,600; 4 commissioners, $2,400

  1. Ronald Nalley, town manager, $102,500
  2. Sam Karr, finance director, $78,975
  3. Morgan Ronald, fire chief, $66,358
  4. Shannon Baldwin, community development director, $63,810
  5. Sean Humphries, chief of police, $63,188
  6. David Arrowood, public works director, $59,500
  7. Brad Burton, code enforcement coordinator, $54,500
  8. Harold Givens, lake operations director, $52,150
  9. Anita Taylor, human resources director, $51,449
  10. Mark Pobanz, water system supervisor, $51,195

Laurel Park (population 2,239, Henderson County)

Mayor, $3,000; 4 council members, $2,400

  1. Alison Melnikova, town manager, $79,996.80, $1,200 cellphone allowance
  2. Bobbie Trotter, chief of police, $64,187.76
  3. Kimberly Hensley, town clerk, $59,022.60
  4. Andrew Griffin, public works superintendent, $56,825.60
  5. Brandon Johnson, crew leader, $44,366.40, $240 cellphone allowance
  6. Michael Capps, police lieutenant, $40,469.52, $360 cellphone allowance
  7. Kevin Swanson, police officer, $38,001.60
  8. Jody Justice, mechanic, $37,336
  9. Bilsen Prezas, police officer, $37,193.52
  10. Philip Ramackers, police officer, $36,232.56

Maggie Valley (population 1.289, Haywood County)

Mayor, $7,269; 4 aldermen, $4,621.44

  1. Michael Mehaffey, public works director, $70,184.66
  2. Richard Sutton, chief of police, $67,718.82
  3. Nathan Clark, town manager, $63,749.92
  4. Vickie Best, town clerk, $61,380.80
  5. Leta Wheeler, finance officer, $48,618.70
  6. Russell Gilliland, police lieutenant, $46,820.80
  7. Phillip Bowen, town planner, $46,779.20
  8. Thomas Corbin, wastewater treatment operator, $44,740.80
  9. Brennan Regner, police detective, $43,617.60
  10. Jack Mehaffey, senior public works technician, $43,035.20

Mars Hill (population 2,167, Madison County)

Mayor, $4,000; 4 aldermen, $3,000

  1. Darhyl Boone, town manager, $68,299.92
  2. Michael Garrison, chief of police, $53,770.08
  3. Travis Shook, water treatment plant operator, $45,281.60
  4. Bryan Hopps, fire chief, $41,766.40
  5. Stephanie Payne, office manager, $41,525.38
  6. Jonathan Clark, police captain, $40,556.88
  7. Nathan Waldrup, assistant fire chief, $40,185.60
  8. Chad Wilson, police lieutenant, $38,001.60
  9. Bryan Bailey, water distribution, $37,939.20
  10. Ronnie Rice, water treatment plant assistant, $37,169.60

Marshall (population 894, Madison County)

Mayor, $2,584.92; 5 aldermen, $2,584.92

  1. Thomas Boone, chief of police, $43,992
  2. James Chandler, director of maintenance, $38,979.20
  3. Michelle Massey, accounting, $38,126.40
  4. Kristie Griffin, tax collector, $38,126.40
  5. Tracy Dufek, maintenance, $34,112
  6. Kevin Payne, maintenance, $34,112
  7. Mark Roberts, maintenance, $32,968
  8. Randy Hensley, police officer, $28,454.40
  9. Patrick Wilde, police officer, $28,454.40

Montreat (population 791, Buncombe County)

Mayor, $2,300; 5 commissioners, $1,500

  1. Alex Carmichael, town administrator, $70,000
  2. Jack Staggs, chief of police, $66,243
  3. Stephen Freeman, public works director, $55,910
  4. David Currie, building inspector/code administrator, $50,032
  5. Stefan Stackhouse, finance officer, $48,048
  6. David Arrant, police officer, $42,016
  7. Phyllis Comrie, police officer, $41,519
  8. Angela Murphy, town clerk, $38,334
  9. Armon Blevins, police officer, $37,909
  10. Barry Creasman, senior water operator, $32,411

Murphy (population 1,631, Cherokee County)

Mayor, $10,600; 5 council members, $1,800

  1. Anna Payne, town manager/finance officer/clerk, $83,200
  2. Justin Jacobs, chief of police, $54,371
  3. Matthew Helton, wastewater plant ORC, $52,000
  4. Dustin Smith, assistant police chief, $48,672
  5. Eldon Roberts, maintenance supervisor, $47,840
  6. Nathan Crubaugh, water plant ORC, $46,800
  7. Robert Jones, maintenance backhoe operator, $39,104
  8. Clint Wooten, police officer, $37,856
  9. Samuel Allen, police officer, $37,336
  10. Henry Owl, sanitation supervisor, $36,857.60

Newland (population 712, Avery County)

5 aldermen, $600 (voluntarily forfeited)

  1. Keith Hoilman, town administrator/public works director, $58,156, $600 bonus
  2. Byron Clawson, chief of police, $45,000, $600 bonus
  3. Dwight Johnson, public works employee, $27,000, $600 bonus
  4. James Clark, public works employee, $27,000, $600 bonus
  5. Michael Fields, police officer, $26,000, $600 bonus

Old Fort (population 902, McDowell County)

Mayor, $3,300; 5 aldermen, $3,300

  1. Melvin Lyle, chief of police/maintenance supervisor, $52,000
  2. Mechele Taylor, finance officer/town clerk/tax collector, $45,000
  3. Will Guzman, police officer, $30,500
  4. James Lytle, maintenance, $27,900
  5. Charles Shumaker, maintenance, $26,900
  6. Juan Meraz, police officer, $26,250
  7. Steven Corns, resource officer, $25,700
  8. Alvena Turner, water billing clerk, $24,400

*Robbinsville (population 603, Graham County)

* Town did not respond to requests for information before publication. Information will be added if it is provided.

Rosman (population 599, Transylvania County)

Mayor, $4,800; Mayor pro-tem, $3,000; 4 aldermen, $2,100

  1. Brian Shelton, town administrator, $45,865.50
  2. Angela Woodson, town clerk, $44,518.40
  3. Chris Owen, sanitation supervisor, $30,312
  4. Joey Lance, sanitation laborer, $29,344.80

Rutherford College (population 1,368, Burke County)

Mayor, $3,200; 6 council members, $600

  1. Kenneth Geathers Jr., town manager, $49,743.84
  2. Jessica Bargsley, town clerk/finance officer, $18.97/hour
  3. John Leger Jr., utility/public works supervisor, $18.33/hour
  4. Nancy Sudderth, utility clerk, $16.25/hour
  5. Patricia Stillwell, utility clerk $14.55/hour
  6. Jim Stockton, utility director, $1,000/month

Saluda (population 731, Polk County)

Mayor, $3,022; 3 commissioners, $2,002; 1 commissioner, $1,902; 1 commissioner, $100

  1. Jonathan Cannon, city manager, $67,710.77
  2. James Conner, chief of police, $48,656.35
  3. Dewayne Elliott, public works supervisor, $42,646.50
  4. Christopher Buchanan, police sergeant, $37,604.55
  5. John Rickman, police officer, $35,715.29
  6. William Queen, public works supervisor, $30,830.06
  7. Jessica Desiano, administrative assistant, $30,792.33
  8. Eugene Orr, public works, $29,959.10
  9. Tola Ellis, city clerk, $16,932.48
  10. Christopher Ruff, police officer, $15,995.15

Spruce Pine (population 2,224, Mitchell County)

Mayor, $3,528.12; 4 council members, $2,822.88

  1. Richard Canipe, town manager, $80,065.96
  2. David Lindsey, finance officer, $56,052.88
  3. William Summerlin, chief of police, $55,234.66
  4. Phillip Hise, public works director, $47,922.16
  5. Darlene Butler, town clerk, $46,508.80
  6. Michael Briggs, police officer, $46,217.60
  7. Steven Turbyfill, police officer, $39,852.80
  8. Kasey Cook, police officer, $39,416
  9. Stacey Hughes, police officer, $39,416
  10. Michael Burleson, police officer, $36,982.40

Sylva (population 2,679, Jackson County)

Mayor, $4,800; 4 commissioners, $3,600

  1. Lynn Bryant, finance officer/deputy tax collector, $69,645
  2. Paige Dowling, town manager/Main Street director, $67,615
  3. Dan Schaeffer, public works director, $60,160
  4. Davis Woodard, chief of police, $55,933
  5. Tammy Hooper, assistant police chief, $49,653
  6. Amanda Murajda, town clerk/tax collector/personnel analyst/accounts payable $46,075
  7. Rick Bryson, police lieutenant, $41,961
  8. Aimee Sumner, sergeant detective/evidence tech, $40,022
  9. Doug Farmer, detective, $38,116
  10. Jim Howell, crew leader, $37,328

Tryon (population 1,730, Polk County)

Mayor, $3,000; 4 commissioners, $2,400

  1. Zachary Ollis, town manager, $65,000
  2. Jeffery Arrowood, chief of police, $64,734.62
  3. Susan Bell, town clerk, $64,727.24
  4. Andrew McCallister, distribution/collection supervisor, $54,000
  5. Paula Kempton, community development director, $51,660
  6. Geoff Tennant, fire chief, $50,000
  7. Timothy Wright, police captain, $49,762.55
  8. Gregory McCool, water plant supervisor, $48,500
  9. Theda Rickman, police lieutenant, $45,545.89
  10. Joel Morse, street supervisor, $41,500

Weaverville (population 3,833, Buncombe County)

Mayor, $4,200; 5 council members, $3,000

  1. Selena Coffey, town manager, $107,590
  2. Greg Stephens, chief of police, $105,036.12
  3. Tony Laughter, public works director, $94,051.88
  4. Ted Williams, fire chief, $80,136
  5. Rick Harper, public works supervisor, $72,735.98
  6. Phillip Turbyfill, public works supervisor, $72,735.98
  7. Tonya Dozier, finance officer, $72,720.96
  8. Jayson Harwood, deputy fire chief, $67,846
  9. Trent Duncan, water treatment plant supervisor, $64,456.67
  10. Melinda King, senior finance specialist, $62,825

* Town did not respond to requests for information before publication. Information will be added if it is provided.

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