City will pay Treme to stay

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 20, 2011

By Emily Ford
City Manager Dave Treme will receive a $35,000 bonus when he retires.
And if he stays in his job for two more years, the bonus could double to $70,000.
Salisbury City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to award Treme a bonus equal to three months of his salary when he retires, “in recognition of his loyal and superior performance as city manager for over 25 years.”
If Treme remains in his position until Dec. 31, 2012, he may receive an additional three months’ salary payment.
Treme’s annual salary is $139,726.50.
Treme, 63, told the Post he doesn’t have a retirement date in mind. He’s worked in local government for 40 years.
“I’m pleased to be working as the city manager and pleased that they would like me to complete my work here,” he said, adding he will “work for them as long as I’m able.”
The bonuses come after Council gave Treme an exemplary annual evaluation during a closed session two weeks ago, Mayor Susan Kluttz said. Council members had no negative comments or even suggestions for Treme, she said.
“It’s been that way every year for my 14 years as mayor,” she said.
Normally, after his annual evaluations, Treme would receive a raise. But due to the poor economy, Council has not given him a raise for several years, Kluttz said.
City Clerk Myra Heard said Treme’s last raise was awarded Dec. 1, 2007. The 4 percent increase totaled $5,374.10 annually.
Council wanted to reward Treme for 25 years of excellent service and encourage him to stay longer, Kluttz said.
“We are at a critical time in this city, just rolling out Fibrant,” she said.
Fibrant is the city’s new fiber-to-the-home telecommunications utility that competes with Time Warner Cable and others to provide Internet, phone and cable services.
The city borrowed $30 million for the project and built a new Customer Service Center to house Fibrant and other city departments.
“Fibrant has to be successful,” Kluttz said. “With his leadership, his professionalism and the experience he has not only with the city but with Fibrant, we wanted to do something to encourage him to stay.”
Council has doubled Treme’s workload by asking him to take on the new project, “which is pretty tremendous,” Kluttz said.
Although Dec. 31, 2012, is the earliest date Treme could collect the six-month bonus, Council would like Treme to stay even longer, if possible, she said.
“We just think his leadership right now is invaluable,” she said. “This is not the time for us to even consider trying to bring somebody new on board.”
In addition to launching Fibrant, the city also faces a tough budget year, Kluttz said. City revenues are down, and officials are concerned the state will try to balance its budget woes on the backs of the cities, she said.
“We very much need him right now,” Kluttz said.
The Post erroneously reported Wednesday that council took no action after Tuesday’s closed session, where they discussed Treme’s bonuses.
During the City Council meeting, Treme assured a Post reporter he would notify the paper if the council took action after the closed session. However, he did not.
City Attorney Rivers Lawther said Wednesday he was supposed to notify the reporter Tuesday night about Treme’s bonus, and he decided to wait. Lawther apologized.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.