Thursday, September 21, 2017

Updated City of Asheville Salaries

Finally, we got it.  Here's our annual City of Asheville salary update:

NOTE 1: we are showing the FY2016-17 salary (pre-2017 increase) as well as the FY2017-18 salary.

NOTE 2: This data was provided by the City on Sunshine Request in June 2017. We have been told that not all full-time employees were provided. We can only go by what the City provides but we have requested that the City make ALL employee salary data available on their Open City Data Portal.

Here's the top 20 City of Asheville salaries.

We also were able to analyze the salaries provided by the City to a Sunshine Request filed by the City on June 21st.  To see that list, click here.  Here's what we found:

There were 1133 full-time employees listed with an additional 300+ part-time and/or seasonal employees.  Based on that data, we found:

The #1 Man

City Manager, Gary Jackson’s current salary is $195,214 with additional $65,000 in fringe benefits bringing his total compensation to $260,367.

He is earning $46,577 in salary less than recently retired (and now under FBI investigation), Buncombe County Manager, Wanda Greene ($241,790) who had been with the County for 20 years where she managed a County budget of $431 million and 1,442 employees.  Gary Jackson has been with the City for 10 years and manages a City budget of $176 million and 1,248 full-time employees.

Compare to other cities:
The City of Fayetteville has a population twice that of Asheville and their City Manager earns $185,000.  Mr. Jackson is not far behind Ruffn Hall, Raleigh’s City Manager who earns $239,500.

Living Wage
Most city employees make the “living wage” of $15/hr.  Essentially, that equates to $31,200/year.  Of the full-time employees listed from the City, only 127 do not make 15/hr.

City of Asheville vs. Average Income
Average income for Asheville is $28,106.  According to the data provided by the City, out of the City’s 1133 full-time employees, 94% earn above the average income (1064).  The average income of all full-time employees is $47,248.99 with an average hourly rate of $22.72.

City of Asheville vs. Median Income
Household Median Income for Asheville is $44,077 which means that is the total income of all earners in a household (over 15 years of age).  Going by that, 51% of the City’s full-time employees earn above the household median income.

It’s good to live in the City - More employees to serve fewer people
Buncombe County has approximately 1 county employee meeting the needs of 178 residents.
The City of Asheville population is almost at 90,000. For every city employee, there are 79 residents and that doesn’t count the 300+ part-time or seasonal employees.

However, according to Gary Jackson’s management letter in this year’s budget, the City faces high turnover, especially among professionals. Does Mr. Jackson think that professionals need to earn more? In this year's budget all employees received a 2.5% increase and the Human Resources Department will be conducting benchmark studies.  

Legal Department

SalaryBenefitsTotal Comp
Deputy Attorney$102,489.00$26,886.00$129,375.00
Assistant City Atty Sr$83,648.00$23,106.00$106,754.00
City Attorney, Robin Currin$177,700.00$57,745.00$235,445.00
Assistant City Atty Sr$78,575.00$38,421.00$116,996.00
Assistant City Attorney$67,611.00$20,084.00$87,695.00
Admin Assist$34,125.00$12,954.00$47,079.00

Monday, September 11, 2017

Asheville City Salaries

If City leaders and Candidates really care about transparency, they should request City of Asheville salaries to be put on the City Open Data Portal.  Our City constantly touts being like other big cities, it's time to act like it. Look at the cities and public institutions that publish their salaries:

City of Charlotte does it - click here
City of Fayetteville and Cumberland County
UNC System Workers
NC State Government Employees
Burke County and City of Morganton

On June 12th we submitted a public records request according to the City of Asheville guidelines for salary information.  This was the same information we requested last year and it took them 2 months to respond.  However, this year, the City has yet to respond to our request (now going on 3 months). So, we've decided to publish their information and our previous year information:

2013, 2014, 2015 Salary Data - Department Heads
Here's a link to the information we published LAST year:

Pre-2017 Salary Data - All Full-Time Employee
It turns out another person requested similar information and the City responded with a list of all full-time city employees, listing their name, hourly wage and annual compensation.  It is not sorted.

Here is the list of salary information, prior to the 2017 budgeted increases:

Open Data? Not for salaries

The City of Asheville and its Council and leadership have made a big deal out of being transparent and using the highest and best technology. It even makes the budget available online although, given the way the data is represented, you need to be a database expert to understand it.  Their site is:

If the City truly wants to be transparent, it should make this salary information via it's Open Data portal as many other North Carolina cities do.

Carolina Public Press did an analysis of salaries in WNC and here's what they found:

Breaking down salaries in WNC -
"Of the 10 highest paid municipal employees in the region, eight work in Asheville. City manager Gary Jackson’s salary of $190,452 per year is the highest overall in WNC."

City of Asheville LOBS SOBS

i.e., Shuffling Money


At the City Council meeting tomorrow, September 12th, the City Council will be asked to approve bond loans to be issued to the tune of $20 million in the form of short term obligation bonds (SOBS). These will be issued through the Local Government Commission.

According to the City the....
"SOBS are refunding part of the interim construction debt as well. They are used specifically in the Innovation Districts (Municipal Service Districts)."
From what we gather and various email exchanges, this is NOT new debt but is replacement debt for existing, interim construction debt.  Either way, it's debt. The City has the option to use all of that or just a portion. They have the authorization to go up to $20 million.

City places lien on City property
As collateral for the $20 million, the City will allow a lien to be put on City buildings - City Hall (70 Court Plaza), the City’s Public Works Facility (161 S. Charlotte St) and the City’s Municipal Building (100 Court Plaza).  The issued a public notice to this effect which you can see here - CLICK TO VIEW  and go to page 7 of this pdf.  It also contains the entire explanation of this debt.

Where is it going?
The $20 million is for Capital Improvement Projects and according to the City, some of it has already been spent.  See below.
  • $7.38 million to RADTIP - the riverfront project within the 100 year flood plain on The French Broad River.
  • $5.4 million for Craven Street - this project was promised to New Belgium as part of their agreement to come here
  • $5 million to Radio Infrastructure
  • $3.95 million for Eagle Market Street - the project in downtown that has been delayed due to massive construction problems
  • $2 million to Streets and Sidewalks
  • $1 million to Azalea Road
To see the complete list - click on this image:

In addition, it will be asked to refinance approximately two limited obligation bonds (LOBS), one issued in 2012 with a remaining balance of $18 million and another issued in 2016 with remaining balance of $11.685 million.  The city will save on interest because those loans were short term rates and they will now be fixed rate. The total amount, including costs to refinance will be $31 million.

Where will the money go?
This money that has already been spent. The city is simply refinancing this debt.  The money was used on previous capital improvement projects - see image above. 

$600,000 Cost To Issue and Refinance
The cost of finance professionals and lawyers to complete both transactions will be around $600,000.

NOTE: These bonds do not include the $74 million bonds that will be issued in the next two years.

In short, this means the City will have existing debt of $51 million. Add that to the $74 million bond plus the interest and the City will have over $130 million in debt.

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