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Former city manager gave quiet raises, promotions in 2013

SALISBURY — Former City Manager Doug Paris gave three members of his management team raises of more than $13,000 last summer during a reorganization that was not announced to the public or to City Council.
Paris left his job June 17 after a five-hour closed session with City Council. Other than saying the decision to part ways was mutual, no one on City Council has said why Paris left, citing personnel confidentiality requirements. Paris received a severance worth nearly $210,000 in accordance with his contract. He was city manager for two year and three months.
Elaney Hasselmann, the former public information director, quit her job the day after Paris left. Although she resigned and had no employment contract, she received a severance of $32,746 from city administrators.
City staff said they cannot discuss why Hasselmann received a severance, and several City Council members said the council was not involved. Hasselmann did not respond to questions from the Post.
Paris gave Hasselmann, Ruth Kennerly and Zach Kyle salary increases of more than $13,000 on July 8, 2013. He promoted the women from managers to directors. Hasselmann, who received an $18,000 raise, had been the public information manager, and Kennerly, who received a $13,500 raise, had been the human resources manager.
Paris also gave Kyle a $13,895 raise to reflect additional responsibilities, the city said.
Unlike previous promotions to Paris’ management team — a group of 12 employees who report to the city manager — Paris did not announce the changes publicly or internally to other city employees. Several City Council members said they did not know about the promotions and pay raises until recently.
Mayor Paul Woodson and Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Blackwell have called for more oversight by City Council of the next city manager.
The director positions that Kennerly and Hasselmann moved into were not advertised to other potential applicants. That is not unusual, according to City Clerk Myra Heard, who is serving as city spokeswoman in the aftermath of Paris and Hasselmann’s departures.
The new jobs, like many other positions in the city, were not required to be posted, Heard said.
“Some positions are created as a result of a reorganization of a group or department with existing personnel reassigned,” she said for the city.
Paris did not respond to questions from the Post about the July 2013 promotions and why they were not announced to the public or shared with City Council.
That was not the case in May 2012, when Paris announced that he was promoting Kyle to assistant city manager for human resources and Hasselmann to public information manager.
At the time, Paris said he was merging four positions — two were vacant — into new posts filled by Kyle and Hasselmann, saving the city $180,000 annually. Kyle’s salary went from $94,500 to $104,999 with his promotion from human resources director to assistant city manager.
In October 2012, Paris gave Kyle another 5 percent raise to $110,249. Two months later, Paris gave Kyle a merit raise to $111,249.
During the May 2012 promotions, Hasselmann’s salary went from $45,346 as interim public information office to $63,000 as public information manager. Simultaneously, Kennerly was promoted to human resources manager. Her salary went from $47,727 as a human resources analyst II to $63,000 as well.
Kyle, Hasselmann, Kennerly and many employees received $1,000 merits increases in December 2012.
In January 2013, Kennerly received a salary adjustment to $68,500. The city said the increase was “for level of work, job classification and pay grade.”
Then in July 2013, Kennerly and Hasselmann were promoted to directors, both earning $82,000.
“Regarding employment history for Ruth Kennerly, she was promoted to human resources manager with the understanding she would receive another promotion to human resources director within one year,” Heard said for the city. “The promotion to human resources director resulted in salary increases to bring her salary in line with other management team members and the appropriate pay grade for the position.”
Also in July 2013, Paris gave Kyle a $13,895 raise to $125,144, reflecting additional responsibilities, the city said Friday.
Paris had fired the Parks and Recreation Department director and her program manager, and Kyle took over supervising that department. He also oversaw the merger of the city’s new Infrastructure Services unit, the city said.
With the 2013 cost of living increase, Kyle’s current salary is $127,960. Kennerly earns $83,845, the same salary Hasselmann was making when she quit.
The city would not release the name of the employee who keyed the July 2013 salary increases for Kennerly and Hasselmann into the payroll system, saying that matter is not a public record.
According to attorneys for the Salisbury Post, the name of the person who keyed in the salary changes is a public record if software tracks that information or if there is any other type of record of who keys in the information. The city did not respond.
Kyle has been a city employee since 2009. Kennerly joined the city in 2004, and Hasselmann started working for the city in 2006.
Salary history for the rest of the city’s management team, starting from Jan. 1, 2011, includes:
• Interim City Manager John Sofley, who joined the city in 1987, was the city’s finance director in January 2011, earning $112,858. In May 2011, former City Manager David Treme announced that he was promoting Sofley to assistant city manager for management and public services.
Sofley earned a merit raise in 2012 to $117,899. In January 2013, Paris raised Sofley’s pay grade and adjusted his salary to $125,144, allowing for a previous adjustment when Sofley became assistant city manager, according to the city.
Sofley received a cost of living increase in November 2013 and now earns $127,960. Mayor Paul Woodson has said he plans to ask City Council to pay Sofley an additional $580 per month while he serves as interim city manager, bringing his salary up to what Paris was making when he left.
• Fire Chief Bob Parnell, who joined the city in 1984, and Police Chief Rory Collins, who joined the city in 1999, were both earning about $90,000 in January 2011. Paris gave the men merit increases in 2012 to $91,000 and cost of living increases in 2013 to about $93,000.
• Salisbury-Rowan Utilities Director Jim Behmer, who joined the city in 1993, was earning $105,040 in January 2011. Paris gave Behmer a merit increase to $106,039 in 2012 and a salary adjustment to $111,295 in 2013. The salary adjustment included the elimination of a separate monthly stipend, according to the city.
Behmer received a cost of living raise in 2013 to $113,799.
• Public Services Director Tony Cinquemani, who has been with the city since 1985, was earning $86,099 in January 2011. A merit increase in 2012 and cost of living raise in 2013 brought his salary to $89,058.
• Janet Gapen, director of planning and community development who joined the city since 2003, was a senior planner in January 2011 earning $58,840. She received a merit increase in 2012 to $59,840. After the former planning director retired, Paris announced in June 2013 that Gapen would take over the position and paid her $90,300.
A cost of living increase in November 2013 brought her salary to $92,331.
• Wendy Brindle, director of engineering and development who joined the city in 1996, was an engineer III in January 2011 earning $69,076. In an April 2011 reorganization, Brindle became traffic operations manager and earned $72,530. She received a merit increase in 2012 to $73,530.
After the former city engineer retired, Paris announced in April 2013 that Brindle would serve as interim city engineer and paid her $88,000. Paris then announced in August 2013 that he was promoting Brindle to engineering director. She earned $92,400. A cost of living increase in 2013 brought her salary to $94,479.
• City clerk and assistant to the city manager Myra Heard, who joined the city in 1999, earned $53,831 in January 2011. She attained a degree in 2011, with a raise to $59,215. In 2012, Paris promoted Heard to assistant to the city manager and paid her $65,000. She earned a merit increase in 2012 and cost of living increase in 2013 to bring her salary to $67,485.
• Mike Jury, a contract employee, serves as manager of Infrastructure Services. He signed his first contract with the city in March 2012 as Fibrant manager, earning $49,999. Five months later, Paris renewed Jury’s contract at $99,999.
In June 2012, Paris named Jury infrastructure services manager and renewed his contract at $111,295. Jury received a cost of living increase in 2013 and now earns $113,799.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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