New Hanover Co. Manager gets $15k raise, now making $175,000

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Submitted: Mon, 07/15/2013 - 10:16pm
Updated: Tue, 07/16/2013 - 1:09pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet will receive a pay raise and contract extension as his second year in the position begins.

Today commissioners met in closed session to do reviews on Coudriet and other top county administrators. Afterward they announced Coudriet’s salary will increase to $175,000. He will also get a contract extension to 2017. Coudriet started as county manager June 30, 2012, with a salary of $155,000. A county spokesman says Coudriet’s salary had risen to $159,630 July 1. That means he’s getting a 9.6 percent increase.

Commissioners also approved a three-percent pay hike for County Attorney Wanda Copley, who currently makes $140,300, and Clerk to the Board Sheila Schult, who currently earns $73,047. Schult will also get a $2,700 vehicle allowance.

Earlier the county said Coudriet was to get a 6.5-percent raise. A county spokesman admitted than announcement was “bad math.”


  • Vog46 says:

    Private company’s exist to make profits off of goods and services they sell.
    Political figures spend money they arbitrarily collect through taxation.
    Coudriet is given a set amount of money to spend based upon taxes that come into their coffers under a penalty of law for not paying. Company’s can lose clients tomorrow and have NO INCOME from that point forward.
    Coudriet’s job, although stressful is far less stressful than a CEO of a small energy company. Yes it’s high profile because he’s a public figure, supported by public tax dollars. He knew this going into the position. There is NO COMPARISON to the private sector.

    As for the retirement system. Yes he contributes 6% as does the government with their contribution. But that defined pension is guaranteed by the taxpayers. That CEO’s 401K is not guaranteed by anyone.
    Coudriet is an over paid blunderbuss in charge of a bloated county government system that could almost run itself. Given the geographical size of NHC and the number of employees Coudriet’s salary should be capped at a much smaller rate and the subsequent pension costs would go down, albeit slightly. His salary and his raise are both outrageous and undeserved.


  • Todd says:

    This is ridiculous. First of all Government votes for its own raises across the board. In just about every facet of government they give themselves raises without the vote from the people they serve and collect money from… their employers per say…us Of course that allows for other counties cronies to raise their salaries by using the same old exuse. Its not based on how good the performance is, just what everybody else is making. If you think money = quality your sadly mistaken. We all know that in government this is untrue. Out here in the private industry anyone can tell you that has had their job for a while, its based on production and how well you do. So although we appreciate the same old way for government to figure how much they are going to give themselves some of us are not swallowing it.

  • LynjeaP says:

    When exactly do the peons have the time to sit in on the meetings when they work when most of those meetings are held! The county employees get nothing compared to these people! They don’t care about anyone except the people who give them their money and those who manage it for them. I would love to have enough to manage for more than a few hours on payday! It would be nice if that money was put in the budget for those who actually keep the city moving! Not those sitting behind a desk. Let them work one day in the sewers, getting shot at, on a fire truck, or keeping the lawns of the county, or any other county job! Thank you to each and every one of you who keep everything going from one day to the next!

  • Guest63 says:

    Can’t wait to see what the city has in store for its hard working teachers!!

  • Dumbfounded says:

    So tell me how I read that the Sheriff Office can’t find anyone from the county or school board to help pay for the additional SRO’s in our schools. These Deputies are placed there to protect our children, and be a figure of mentorship to them, but we can pay this guy another 10k to his salary. I can’t believe how some of this sneaky bs happens with our tax dollars. Our sheriff wants to help make these schools be safer, but we can’t do that because someone else is using these tax dollars in a careless manner. Concerned parent over here.

  • Guest2468 says:

    So the Commissioners give all of the other employees a CHANCE at a 1.5% pay raise this year depending on how they did, but he gets 6% to keep his pay competitive? 1.5% of 30k is $450!!!!!! If you’re gonna give the boss a raise, why not make it the SAME that HE wants to give everybody else? Oh, and they’re spending money to do a pay study just to find out how far BEHIND the rest of the country county employees are from the market average, but that won’t be finished until later. Next year if all of the county salaries aren’t adjusted to what the study says, I’m guessing the HR department better be ready for a busy year of hiring to fill all of the spots from people leaving. The rich get richer & the poor get poorer

  • gamps1945 says:

    This is great. My old self. Working hard, for minimum wage.

    Between this guy’s 150K salary, and the thousands of perfectly, able-bodied people, “disabled”, like Ricky Meeks, out there, I have to scrimp and save, just to eat.

    1/4 of my badly needed pay, goes to these guys, to live high on the hog.

  • creativeendeavor says:

    I am a firm believer that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. All county employees should get a 6.5% raise. Was that a COLA or merit? What was the increast on July 1? No other county employees got that raise. Does he work for the county?

  • Vog46 says:

    In no particular order.

    The county made a math mistake in the announcement? From 6.5% to 9.6%
    Um, excuse me – I’m sure the “county spokesperson” was TOLD what to say. So who REALLY made the mistake?

    County attorney given a raise to $140,300. considering how much the amotion hearing will cost us and that Woody White is an attorney I would kindly suggest that all attorneys recuse themselves from voting on such things. Did Woody recuse himself?

    It is time for THIS commission to look hard at salaries, especially the higher salaries, and consider a cap on them. I know that the county manager position is fraught with all sorts of responsibilities and problems but for a county our size it seems ludicrous that Coudriet is making $175,000 per year. What is more disturbing is the salary increase is one thing but the retirement benny’s are now going to cost us all a LOT of money over LONG period of time. This is the REAL danger to giving big salary increases to government officials – the retirement payout is based upon your highest 3 or 5 years of salary.

    Woody White should be “amotioned” out of office for fiscal irresponsibility!


  • Don Wrong says:

    “A county spokesman admitted than announcement was “bad math.” Or Bad Spokeswoman, now there is someone who is overpaid.

  • Curious says:

    Sitting behind a desk and figuring out how to run a small county is I’m sure very demanding. I wonder if running into burning buildings, seeing everything bad this county has to offer while everyone sleeps or being shot at merits the same compensation? Boo hoo, a manager leaves because of pay, what happens if emergency service workers start to leave due to pay? Some of them are working 2 to 3 jobs to make ends meet. No unions, no job security. Did they do a study for his increase? People wonder why moral is low, protect those that protect you.

  • Facts says:

    I am not one to comment. However, I think we need to clarify some items. First, if we as citizens want a well-run county we need great staff. The pay must be competitive with the private sector or else the county will not retain the most qualified individuals. Think about being a manager. He/she is in charge of 1,500+ employees and hundreds of millions of dollars. I don’t know about you, but I want the smartest people managing it all (they expect compensation… look at what a CEO of a similar sized operation makes). If you compare the salaries of other County Managers from across the state, you will see New Hanover is in line with other larger counties. 2012 data is from the UNC School of Government.

    County Manager Salary
    Brunswick – 175,000
    Catawba – 203,000
    Cumberland – 198,000
    Durham – 197,000
    Dare – 239,000
    Guilford – 183,000
    Mecklenburg – 246,000
    Wake – 229,000
    Wayne – 220,000

  • Cant Take It No More says:

    So I guess we’re getting off cheap, paying this guy over $3000 a week. Trying to figure, if this post is from him, or one of the several, fat cat, cronies.

  • GuestBullisht says:

    Wow, “Facts” you provide statistics for bloated salaries of government officials from a “School of Government” mill which produces them. These are bureaucrats whose job descriptions didn’t even exist 30 years ago. These salary levels for glorified clerks are an insult to taxpayers everywhere.

  • Facts part 2 says:

    Thank you for your comment, Mr. Coudriet, or was that from one of your Goon Squad henchmen down the hall in the Palace. So you feel that self important that you deserve to make more than four times the average county employee?

  • GuestBullisht says:

    Thanks “Facts” for enlightening me. I had NO idea that this scam is that old.

  • Vog46 says:

    Based upon county population the bigger counties get more bang for their buck. Look at Dare county’s manager salary – there’s a person that needs to be fired.
    Please look at he retirement benny’s and calculate them into comparisons with private sector employers. The BCBS for life and pension are worth huge sums of money that many people do not take into account when they start comparing public versus private sector jobs.

    County Manager Salary…………county pop……/salary per person
    Brunswick – 175,000……………..112,597………….$1.55
    Catawba – 203,000…………………155,484………….$1.30
    Cumberland – 198,000……………330,700…………..$0.59
    Durham – 197,000…………………..282,511…………..$0.69
    Dare – 239,000…………………………34,810……………$6.86
    Guilford – 183,000…………………502,000……………$0.36
    Mecklenburg – 246,000……………963,000…………..$0.25
    Wake – 229,000………………………945,000……………..$0.24
    Wayne – 220,000…………………….124,915…………….$1.76
    New Hanover 175,000……………209,964…………………$0.83/person


  • Facts says:

    You are foolish to think he has time to respond to you all. I am an average Joe. You can call me “Joe the Plumber” if that makes you feel any better. I am a taxpayer who understands how much of your life you give away when you are a leader of an organization.

    Here’s a comparison of the public sector salary to the private sector. A Total Energy Services, private company with annual revenues of around $300 million and 900 employees compensates its CEO 525,033 annually. The CEO’s total compensation package is $1,467,007.(NHC estimated revenue this year is around $310 million for those who don’t know.

    You obviously don’t know how the retirement package for NC and local government employees works. Each paycheck 6 percent of an employees salary is deducted and invested. The local government also makes a contribution based on the rate set by the NC Treasury Office.

    The total amount spent on retirement for the NHC County Managers Office in 2013 was around ~$44,700, including contributions for the assistant county mangers and support staff.

  • Facts says:

    Yeah you’re right. I guess that’s why they founded their association in 1938.

  • Jan Christine says:

    I think all these people make way too much money. I don’t care what other more populated counties managers earn, it is too much. I work for a living and am personally sick and tired of paying for big government, local and federal and for all those who don’t work or pay their share making me do double duty. all of these managers are public servants. if they want more they can go to the private sector and really work for a living. i have worked for the county and realize there are many who do a good job but the reality is those jobs are cush compared to private sector jobs i have had where i had to justify my pay daily. the lack of accountability is what is killing us in this country and it starts at the local level.

  • Guest-of-the-day says:

    not that I’m for across the board pay increases for all gov’t workers… and they would have done that if there wasn’t so much public outcry these days. But like they said, “you gotta take care of those who take care of you”. They “take care of each other” at the top echelons of county gov’t. Isn’t that all nice and lovey dovey?

  • Guest2020 says:

    What about the peons? This man already has a salary that is three times the average salary in North Carolina. I am sure there are employees in the lower ranks, who have been here longer, who need that money more than he does.

  • PublicAvenger says:

    This is a disgrace. This “public servant”, is making 5x what the average taxpayer is making. A entry level dispatcher, makes less then $30K / year. With all the pressure, they are under, half will be gone, in less then 15 months. Instead of feathering his nest, he should be trying to make these “worker bees” pay, and job conditions, better. Just look at the turnover rate.

    But the “fat cats”, like him, just ride into well nested retirements. At this rate, he will get over $90K / year, when he retires. Courtesy of the NH County taxpayer.

    Maybe he can do like the retired Wilmington Housing Head. This “public servant”, bought a $700k home at Bald Head Island. But he spends most of his time, on his yacht.

  • WilmMan says:

    You have got to be f*Ingram kidding me! What has this guy done to deserve a 6.5% pay raise? So the county commissioners make this decision behind closed doors…why not during an open session? Anyone want to make a bet that the Commissioners will get a pay raise also? For the record deputies will be getting a 2% pay raise…doesn’t quite compare to that 6.5%

  • Guest123 says:

    This is a slap in the face of the county workers. They get 2% the manager gets how much? Please remember this during election time..

  • Guest1842 says:

    The 2% that county employees are receiving is not a pay raise it is a market adjustment (cost of living). I know county employees have been approved to receive UP TO 1 1/2% pay raise if upper management thinks they warrant it.

  • tke1 says:

    When you work with the leaders of county government and have almost daily contact with them, they know you and appreciate your brown nose time more than the limited time given to the peons. The guys who are manning the shovels, picks, and other lower level jobs mean nothing to the county commissioners because they seldom see them face to face. All county employees should invest their time by going to the commissioner’s meetings and let it be known that they are participating in the government and finding out who is really on their side. They don’t have to strike or anything, but remind the elected officials that they have a number of friends and family who vote and those folks have friends and family who also vote (and on and on).
    Not everyone gets a $20,000 increase but most would like a fair share of the pie.

  • Oliver says:

    In other words beg!

  • Vog46 says:

    I compared them to show you how they gin the system to get great retirement perks. Its also ther reason why after a president leaves office many of his appointees are “taken in” by various departments.
    Coudriet could do the same thing if he desires – or he can go to another county since the retirement system is the same. Bruce Shell as CB Town Manager is a local example. He however didn’t need to bulk up his retirement.
    Again – think about the retiree who collects 66% of his salary for 20 years from age 65 to 85. In Coudriets case at 170,000 his retirement payout is $112,200 per year.
    20 X 112,200 = $2,244,000.00

    Not too many in the private sector aside from gilded CEO’s makes that kind of money in retirement.
    CAP his salary…………..


  • Vog46 says:

    Put a monetary value on Coudriet’s pension and the Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage for life that he gets upon retirement then tell me he’s over paid compared to his private sector counterparts who get Medicare and 401k.
    If he retires and collects just 50% of his current salary for 20 years that’s $85,000 X 20 years or $1,700,000.00 just in pension alone !!!
    And WE pay every dime of it. (although he contributes 6%, I believe).
    If you are going to do a comparison to the private sector, one has to figure in the retirement and the BCBS coverage (which in all cases is secondary to medicare).

    That’s why I say CAP the salary. Hire him in a range of say $125K to $150K with a cap at $170K.
    Public sector pensions are very costly and are based upon the HIGHEST 3 to 5 years of salary averaged. Lets say he quit after 5 years as county manager and he works the other 25 years as a school janitor making minimum wage and his pension would be 66%(rate at 30 years) of $170K (highest 5 year average salary) or $112K per year. With BCBS coverage thrown in. Not bad for a janitor.
    Thats why its so dangerous to raise public sector salaries by as much as Coudriet’s has been raised.


  • Vog46 says:

    Has always been “a calling” but there have been many a small town politician who takes advantage as well as others.
    Why do you think many advisers to Presidents go into civil service after the President is done? Typically they get appointed positions within the government making lower wages. But for 8 years they were presidential advisers making 6 figures. This is what their pension is based on, so they work another 12 years to get a 20 yer federal pension then go on to lobby making very big dollars.
    I read about a mayor of a small town in CA, where they had no term limits. Personnel issues were discussed in private. He got council to give him a pay raise to 96,000 per year from $25,000 per yer and he was in office for 12 years. Afterwards he took another job within the city at a lower rate of pay. In CA’s case all municipal employees were in the state retirement system (Unlike NC where there is the Teachers and state employees retirement system and a separate local government system). So this mayor retires after 20 years getting 50% of his highest 3 year average salary, or $48K per year. And he now works at another job !!!!
    The higher you go in the pay scale the more you can negotiate as well.
    I think that pensions should be capped as well at some gross dollar amount.
    Fortunately for NC the pension is fully funded due to some conservative investments over the years. It is one of the top 5 funded state pensions in the nation. The Treasurers office has been manned by Democrats since the 1950s(?). They get a reluctant pat on the back from me for being conservative with the pension fund money.
    But we must always make sure the investments are not too risky, given the amount of money involved. And we MUST always be careful with outrageous pay raises for cronies in state government – it’s a hurt that just keeps on giving and giving and giving……


  • WilmingtonMAJ says:

    While I understand your premise, Vog, you are comparing elected officials like a mayor to a town manager. Remember, that most small-town mayors have other jobs and sources of income. Being the manager of Wilmington is a full-time, high stress job I would imagine and I sincerely doubt that he will be joining the lecture circuit or get appointed to some commission after his tenure.

    Also, the compare the staff of the President of the United States (who are probably grossly underpaid for the amount of work they do) to a town manager of a town the size of Wilmington doesn’t make sense.

  • Guestoftheday says:

    So sad, the rich get richer and poor get poorer (with all of the COL increases for daily life i.e. gas, groceries, medical) and only a 2% increase. Those in the lower paying jobs of NHC are really hit hard in this economy, some of the employees working at NHC even qualify for public assistance, which is amazing when working a 40 hr week.
    The NHC working poor, who haven’t had a salary survey since the late 90’s, sure one is coming, so the Commissioners said at their meeting (right-when?) but it sure won’t help those that will have to leave jobs they enjoy, for a higher paying job to support their families.

    Commissioners/Managers, etc. wise-up it’s costly to train new employees Take Care of the work force you have, they are good people.

  • WilmingtonTruthTeller says:

    No public servant should be getting over $90K /Year. If they reduced him, and the other top four, by 40% (Which is still way too little), each lower-level worker could easily get a $1,000 pay raise.

    But that would require the Fat Cats, having to give something up. And that’s NOT gonna happen.

  • get over it says:

    If they did not give him that much then they would lose him. another city would love to have a manager that made money for the city. Its easy math you can pay much less and get a crappy manager and the city suffers or you can pay him the going rate. the average person does not understand that a city is a entity and it has to be mananged like a corp. So he is like the ceo. you can be like detroit and be in the process of bankruptcy. and bonds are defaulting and everyone loses their pensions and all city workers get let go because there is no money. That includes police for protection and trash and i could keep on going.

  • WilmingtonMAJ says:

    I totally agree. For those calling this man a “public servant” he is in fact an employee of a large organization. The going rate is what it is, and we as a community have to compete. COULD someone else do it for much less…of course. WOULD they…unlikely. Think about it. This is an incredibly stressful, high-profile job, where you are under a ton of scrutiny! Who in their right mind would do this for little pay? Very very few people, and even fewer who are qualified! The fact of the matter is, he could probably go into the private sector and make even more money.

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