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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The StarNews reported this weekend that New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet is intentionally violating the county’s personnel policy to fatten the compensation of several top department managers.

This morning we went to the County Commission meeting to see what Coudriet and commissioners had to say.

The county’s personnel policy says the standard personal leave accrual rate for all employees is based on “consecutive years of service in New Hanover County.” But several high-level county employees, including Coudriet, are accruing vacation days at a higher rate without county experience to back it up.

Coudriet has worked for New Hanover County for only five years, but he has the vacation time of someone who has been with the county for 15 to 19 years.

“In terms of creditable time in the local government retirement system, I actually have the equivalent of 15-19 years,” said Coudriet, who worked in a couple of other counties before coming here.

But allowing himself and others to accrue vacation time like that goes against the county’s own policy.

“Policy is a guidance,” Coudriet said. “It’s a framework to work within, and certainly I have taken the opportunity with a couple of hires to extend to them at their request the opportunity to earn vacation that is consistent with their time of service in the public sector.”

We asked Commissioner Brian Berger what message that sends to residents.

“I would say don’t trust your county government,” Berger said. “I would say don’t trust government period.”

He says citizens should keep a close eye on their government.

“Because when we don’t, that’s when government abuses of power start taking place, and that’s what we’re seeing here in New Hanover County,” Berger said.

We tried to talk with Commission Chair Woody White and Vice Chair Beth Dawson. They say they would talk about anything on the meeting agenda, but not this issue. Commissioner Jonathan Barfield told us the vacation time is another tool in the toolbox to recruit good employees. Commissioner Thomas Wolfe left the meeting before we could talk to him. He has not yet returned a phone message seeking comment.

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10 Comments on "Coudriet: County vacation policy is a guideline"

Carol Kramer
2015 years 8 months ago

Why don’t you go downtown and look it up for yourself?

2015 years 8 months ago

In private industry this would indeed be a non-issue but this is public service so therefore is different. The “policy” Coudriet chooses to ignore is a COST to taxpayers. If vacation is used to allow for early retirement we pay for no work being performed. If they are paid for unused vacation time at end of year then they make more money then they worked for and their pensions are that much higher upon retirement.

No hissy fits here, but the policy SHOULD be changed granting the County Manager such negotiating authority. Otherwise he is guilty of violating county policy and should be disciplined for it.


Surf city tommy
2015 years 8 months ago

Gosh it’d be nice to have a real life all your own, wouldn’t it?

2015 years 8 months ago

From the story: “Coudriet has worked for New Hanover County for only five years, but he has the vacation time of someone who has been with the county for 15 to 19 years.”

2015 years 8 months ago

it is very common for newly hired executives to be granted a service level which includes prior work experience. At high levels, it is not uncommon for hiring to include adjustments for a new hire to compensate for loss of pension or retirement fund vesting.

This really is not a big deal.

But before anyone has a hissy fit, perhaps they should look at his hiring package to determine if he was given such a perk when hired.

2015 years 8 months ago

until someone checks with the parties who negotiated his hire, no one knows for certain if he is violating policy.

Personally, I could care less.

Of course, to the person who suggested I do the legwork, re-read my post. It’s a non-issue for me.

County Lackey
2015 years 8 months ago

Woo-Hoo!!! I can now break every “guidance” in the county “Guidance Manual” and still get my pittance of a raise. Why aren’t you looking into the fat raises they give themselves and family members. This county has the worst nepotism problem, serious, the HR director saw to it his wife got a cushy job over at DSS.

2015 years 8 months ago

We need to know if a different compensation agreement was negotiated. Absent an agreement, this is a gross abuse of power if the county manager just decides the rules don’t apply to him and we foot the bill.

I hope the news reporter keeps trying to get an answer from our commissioners.

2015 years 8 months ago

seem to be the one in need of a life.

I commented on a real post concerning local government.

All you could do is attempt to clothe yourself in the aura of Surf City; hide your true identity; and then make a witless post.

Don’t worry; the first will be here in 12 days and your entitlements will be replenished for another month.

Nancy Stamper
2015 years 8 months ago

Chris is no Bruce Shell who was a humble worker for the people.


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