New Hanover County Commissioner controversy comes to a head

NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — Tuesday’s New Hanover County Commissioner meeting opened with a controversial resolution removed from the agenda.

“This one issue was causing divisiveness that was completely unnecessary,” said Commissioner Rob Zapple. “I think that when it came to it, all the commissioners agreed let’s work this out among ourselves and then bring it forward in a united way.”

The new budget approved last week raised property taxes, and gave a 75 percent raise to commissioners. Commissioner Zapple and Vice Chair Deb Hays voted against the measure.

“Commissioner Barfield’s point that he made quite successfully several times is that there has not been a pay raise for commissioners in the time he’s been around for,” Zapple explained. “That’s 13 years. It was just the size of the raise that I thought we needed more discussion.”

Monday, the New Hanover County Commission Chair, Julia Olson-Boseman asked the county manager to write up a resolution denying Zapple and Hays the raises approved the week before.

Tuesday morning, Olson removed the agenda item, but gave each commissioner a choice. Hays made that decision by the end of the meeting.

“I am not accepting the pay increase as it was voted in, and I would please ask you to make those appropriate adjustments for me,” Hays said.

Hays asked the rest of the board to consider a more moderate raise. So far, Hays is the only commissioner to decline, though Zapple said he’s looking into donating his raise to an organization like Coastal Horizons.

Olson-Boseman and Zapple both believe the resolution could come back up, but hope to move past it as a board.

“Well, I called Madam vice chair last night, and we had a good discussion really just about moving the board forward to continue the important things we are doing. Each commissioner can individually decide whether they want to take the pay. That’s what madam vice chair decided to do. We’re just going to move forward as a board.”

Pay for commissioners who do accept the raise will go from almost $18,000 to more than $31,000. Chair Olson-Boseman will go from a little more than $26,000 a year to $39,000.

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