Knightdale and Wendell have the lowest-paid elected officials in Wake County

mhankerson@newsobserver.comFebruary 7, 2014 

— Even though the town is growing, salaries for elected officials in Knightdale will not be any time soon.

A presentation of an annual salary survey the town conducts every year showed that Knightdale’s elected officials are among the lowest-paid elected officials in Wake County. Councilors, however, said if there is a change to salary, it will come in two years, when all the current councilors’ terms have expired.

The gap is especially noticeable when comparing mayoral salaries. Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen gets $6,944 a year for his service as mayor, about $3,000 less than the Wake County average, which sits at $10,779.

Only Wendell’s mayoral salary, at $6,600, is lower than Knightdale’s.

At the council’s yearly retreat last weekend, councilors and Killen decided not to make any immediate changes to salaries, but they decided to keep it on the table as a possibility for the future.

“Everyone worries it’s a political hot potato because you’re giving yourself a raise,” Killen said at the retreat. “But to not even be close to the Wake County average, I think, is a problem.”

Other members below average too

Other councilors’ salaries also fall behind the county average, although Wendell has the lowest salaries for its elected officials across the board.

Wendell pays all of its commissioners $4,000 a year. Knightdale’s councilors take home $5,050 and the Mayor Pro Tempore, who takes over the mayor’s position if he is not present, is paid $5,680.

Mike Chalk, Knightdale’s Mayor Pro Tempore, was adamently against increasing elected officials’ salaries.

“I think we’re going to leave it like it is,” he said at the retreat. In his 18-year-tenure, Chalk said he couldn’t remember increasing pay for elected officials unless it was a cost of living adjustment.

The council agreed, but newcomer Mark Swan said he would like to see a quick change to the mayor’s salary.

He said he would like to see an increase by the next mayoral election.

“(Money) shouldn’t be the motivation, but I don’t want to push people out because they can’t afford it,” Swan said, referring to the amount of time a potential mayor would have to spend performing his or her duties.

The report calculated it would cost the town $11,149 to bring elected officials’ salaries up to the county average.

Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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