I was surprised to learn that our Board of Commissioners (BOC) has granted County Manager Doug Derrer a 22 percent salary increase. Taking into consideration his annual car allowance, that now puts his salary at $165,968.
As I see it, the issue is not whether or not Derrer deserves the increase; however, the timing of this move and the message it sends to county employees could not be worse. County Attorney Ken Jarrard told the BOC that, “This is something that the county is about two years overdue.”
Well, how about the hundreds of dedicated and loyal county employees who have endured three years without any pay increase at all.
In addition, our employees have seen their group health insurance costs increase and their benefits reduced over this same three-year period. Their 401(k) contributions have been reduced by the BOC and some paid holidays have also been taken away. Also, Forsyth County’s employees are working without a pension plan, only a 401(k) plan, which is certainly not adequate to fund a person’s long-term retirement.
Commission Chairman Brian Tam is quoted as saying that Derrer’s “performance on the job merited the increase.”
What about our public safety employees who put their lives on the line every time they respond to a 911 call for service? Doesn’t their job performance merit salaries and benefits comparable to other municipalities as well?
If our BOC is truly interested in what other local governments are doing for their employees they should order a survey to see what kind of compensation benefits are provided in other nearby municipalities and adopt a comparable plan to reward our employees for their dedication, hard work and loyalty.
At best, the timing of Derrer’s 22 percent pay raise is questionable. Even now, current budget conditions are preventing some county departments from filling vacancies, yet the BOC can somehow wave a magic wand and find an extra $29,968.
Perhaps Mr. Derrer will demonstrate his leadership qualities by deferring this salary increase until such time when all county employees can receive a comparable increase in pay and benefits.