Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 26, 2011

By Karissa Minn
Rowan County is making it easier for taxpayers to find out just how much they’re paying local officials.
The county has added downloadable databases to its website with salary and wage information for all of its employees. To access the data, visit, choose “Human Resources” under the “Departments” menu and click “Employee Info” under “Other Useful Links.”
Or click here:
County Manager Gary Page is the highest-paid employee listed, with an annual salary of $133,100.
He said Tuesday that County Commissioner Jim Sides requested that the databases be made available online. Page spoke with the other commissioners and a majority agreed, so he directed the information technology department to put them on the website. No formal vote was necessary.
Sides said this is a move he and other commissioners have been discussing. Transparency and open access to information is a goal they are working on together, he said.
“We want to be completely transparent with our business, because it is the public’s business,” Sides said. “The public could ask for it anytime they want it, so why not put it on a website where they can get it freely?”
The page allows users to download two databases — one each for employees with benefits and without — as PDF documents or Excel spreadsheets. Sides said he made sure a spreadsheet would be available so people can sort the data however they want.
Information displayed in the databases for each employee include full name, position, department number, full-time or part-time status, pay grade, pay step, hourly rate, salary and hire date.
Four of the five county commissioners are listed as making $12,200 in a year. For Chairman Chad Mitchell, that figure is $14,700.
Sides said the databases are “just a start,” and he and other commissioners also want to put online all county surplus properties (some are listed currently), and agenda packets and financial reports for the Board of Commissioners.
“There are a number of other counties that do basically the same thing,” Sides said. “Some of them have more information than others.”
Page said commissioners haven’t spoken with him about making more information available online, but some — like the county’s annual audit report — could be added in the future.
He said he hasn’t heard feedback from the public about the databases.
“I’ve had some employees who weren’t happy because they thought it should be confidential,” Page said. “I just reaffirmed to them that under general statutes, it is public information.”
Sides said he hopes municipalities and the school system will follow county government’s example.
“Say 50 people came up and wanted the list,” Sides said. “Somebody has to create it, print it, charge people for paper and everything else. Now, if you want to get it, you go to the website and it’s there. There’s no expense and no trouble for the county. That’s the way everything in the county ought to be.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.