08/24/12 — County increases ABC board stipend

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County increases ABC board stipend

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 24, 2012 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners Tuesday morning agreed to a request from the county ABC Board to increase the monthly stipend paid its members, but only after one commissioner said he preferred to see it reduced.

Commissioners approved the increase with little comment during their formal session -- the bulk of the discussion took place during their earlier agenda briefing.

Previously, ABC Board members received $75 each and the chairman $125. The request was that its members and chairman each be paid $150 monthly.

"Every board that I serve on has stopped paying stipends," Commissioner Jack Best said. "Over the past six to seven years, the ones that were have stopped. They are still paying travel expense, car expense, but they are not paying stipends."

Commissioner Steve Keen, a member of the county Social Services Board, said members received $25 per week, but that they had voted to give the money to the foster care program.

Best questioned whether or not the issue should be tabled.

"They are asking," said County Manager Lee Smith. "That board has asked that you consider it. They say that the rate hasn't been changed in 20 years."

Smith said that ABC Board Business Manager Mike Myrick had provided a list of what local board members receive across the state.

"It varies," Smith said. "I don't think it makes any rhyme or reason. It is just different for each one. Nothing looks standard. It is a local decision. You can leave it as is or change it."

Best said he didn't care, but that he would like to see the ABC Board consider reducing instead of increasing the stipend, particularly in light of the poor perception of ABC Boards in other parts of the state.

However, that is not the case for the local ABC Board that is well managed and prospering, Best said.

"But you know we can look at it another way," said Chairman John Bell.

Bell said that the ABC Board did not have to give the county the recent additional $230,000. It could have gone to the state, he said.

Best agreed with Bell that the ABC Board is doing a good job.

"I am just telling you that most boards that I sit on don't pay stipends," Best said.

"But Jack, I remember something you told me about three years ago when I was complaining about CEOs," Bell said. "You said, 'If someone is making me $100 million I wouldn't have any problem paying them.'"

Best said again that the ABC Board was doing a good job, but asked whether members were doing it as a job or public service.

Smith told commissioners that the stipend is not county payroll and does not come from county funds.

"It comes out of their operating funds," he said.

"We can pull it off the agenda and ask for more information," Bell said.

"I don't think we need any more information," Best said. "I don't think that they are asking for too much."

Later, during the formal board session, Commissioner Sandra McCullen's motion to approve the request was approved 6-0. Best did not vote and in accordance with board policy his non-vote was counted as a yes.

Prior to the vote, Keen asked to be excused from voting.

"Mr. Chairman, I respectfully request to recuse myself due to conflict of interest or appearance of conflict in respect to this matter," Keen said.

Keen did not specify why he recused himself.

His only comment after the meeting was, "You know that I have property and some of those properties are commercial properties."

During previous board meetings, county officials said that the ABC Board could be looking at property locations. They have not identified any locations.

In other business Tuesday, the board approved a petition to add Waverly Drive and Ashland Drive in Meares Bluff subdivision to the state road maintenance system.

Prior to the vote, Best recused himself saying that he was a partner in the subdivision. He left the room and did not return until after the board had voted 6-0 to approve the petition.

The board also approved:

* The final plat for a one-lot minor subdivision owned and developed by Jimmy Kornegay on 4.63 acres on the east side of Piney Grove Church Road in New Hope Township.

*The sale of county-owned surplus property at 129 Best Ave.

* The transfer of three lots jointly owned by the county and town of Mount Olive to the town with the town to pay one-half of the legal fees when the properties are sold.

Commissioners met in closed session for about 20 minutes for attorney-client privilege. No action was taken when the board returned to open session.