Civitas Review

Humble Public Servants?


Kudos to the N&O's Dan Kane for digging into the compensation of the leaders of two of the state's more influencial lobbying groups. Recall that Civitas had previously exposed some eye-popping compensation for the leadership of NCAE. In his article, Kane exposes the hefty salaries of the heads of two local government associations. Focus on compensation for employees of these associations became an issue because they are able to participate in a public pension plan, but previously refused to disclose salary information to the N&O claiming they are not public agencies. Here are some revealing segments:

The heads of the state's two local government associations each make more than $200,000 annually, according to records from the state Treasurer's Office and interviews with both men.

Ellis Hankins, executive director of the N.C. League of Municipalities, is paid $207,874, while David Thompson, executive director of the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, earns $204,081.


Their pay is slightly lower than the leaders of Wake County's two biggest governments. Wake County Manager David Cooke and Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen each make roughly $220,000 a year.

The league has more than 90 employees, and the county association has 36. Both organizations lobby state lawmakers, run self-insurance pools for their members and provide training for city and county officials. Much of the associations' funding comes from taxpayers through the dues that municipalities or counties pay.


Pensions are set in part by an employee's four highest consecutive years of pay. If Hankins and Thompson retired with full pensions based on their current salaries, Hankins would receive an annual pension of $115,370, while Thompson's pension would be $113,265.

The N.C. Sheriffs' Association, a nonprofit organization run by the state's sheriffs that also says it does not have to comply with the public records law, is seeking legislative help in joining the state pension system. Its most recently available tax return shows that the association's executive director, Eddie Caldwell, received close to $290,000 in compensation in 2009.

So these association leaders draw a salary derived mostly from taxpayer dollars, will draw a pension financed in large part by taxpayer dollars, lobby state lawmakers for more taxpayer dollars for their constituents, and then want to refuse any semblance of transparency? Gimme a break.

This article also reinforces that advocating for big government to grow even bigger (at our expense, of course) pays pretty well.

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