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County manager gets five-year extension, raise

County manager

Aaron Church

Aaron Church

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — County Manager Aaron Church says he’d like to stay in Rowan forever, and commissioners on Monday obliged his wish by awarding him a contract extension.

After former County Manager Gary Page retired in 2014, commissioners hired Church on a three-year contract. Nearing the end of his contract, Church recently approached commissioners about an extension. He wouldn’t say whether his proposal was higher or lower than what commissioners approved. However, it’s a significant pay bump from his current contract.

Commissioners on Monday unanimously approved a five-year contract extension for Church. The extension includes an annual salary of $139,500. It also comes with a $500 per month car allowance and a 1,500 per year civic club allowance. As they approved the extension, commissioners gave Church glowing reviews.

“I work third shift and sometimes my schedule is different than everyone else’s, but sometimes I’ll get calls from Aaron at midnight, 1 a.m. because he knows I sleep during the day,” said Commissioner Mike Caskey. “So, he’s definitely a 24/7 manager. … I think that shows the dedication he has for the county.”

Commissioner Judy Klusman said Church “is right up there with the most stellar” people she’s seen in government. Klusman also thanked Church for helping to change the tone of government in Rowan County.

Commissioner Craig Pierce kept his remarks about Church simple.

“I’ve got nothing bad to say,” Pierce remarked.

The new contract represents an annual pay increase of $12,625, according to the county’s online database of employee salaries. Church’s car allowance includes a slight increase. His civic club allowance is new.

Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds said commissioners believed Church was being underpaid. Edds said Church speaks honestly, without any “spin,” about matters facing Rowan County.

“We get the truth whether we want it or not,” Edds said. “I’ll get excited about doing something and say, ‘Is this something we can do?’ His response to me is, ‘Well Mr. Commissioner you could do that,’ but he usually follow it up with ‘that would be a disaster.’ So, the experience he has in keeping us out of trouble is a good thing.”

For his part, Church said he was grateful for the new contract.

“I’d like to stay here, well forever if I can,” Church said.

As manager, Church oversees operations of all county government. He’s the top county employee and the highest-paid person on the county’s payroll.

In other business from Monday’s meeting:

• Commissioners approved a site for the consolidated western Rowan elementary school.

The site sits in Cleveland and includes part of the current elementary school’s property. It essentially finalizes the site, which will consolidate elementary schools in Cleveland and Woodleaf.

The site is 41 acres. Commissioners approved the request unanimously.

• Commissioners approved a grant worth $817,473 to rehabilitate the Rowan County Airport’s north apron.

• Commissioners appointed current school board candidate Andrew Poston to the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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