Public information is a valuable tool, but it often can be a double-edged sword. Sometimes the edge cuts toward information a majority of people believe is vital to have. A tax increase or even a decrease would be one example; a factory potentially locating in your neighborhood would be another. It’s information that arms the public with knowledge they need because it impacts them in some way.
But sometimes the edge cuts toward information that, though public, seems a little more intrusive. A good example would be the salaries of administrators who work within the confines of our hospital, our schools or our local government. That information is just as vital and just as public and should, from time to time, be examined to give citizens a better understanding of how tax dollars are spent. In some ways, and by some people, it’s viewed as a bit too personal for public consumption, yet public salary information gives us a better understanding of why, sometimes, it’s hard to fill top positions; why people leave for jobs in larger counties; and why some remain at the helm of their jobs for so long.
This weekend, in our fledgling Saturday-Sunday edition, The Sampson Independent is providing the first salary analysis we have done in well over a decade. We don’t believe salary studies should be done annually, but we do believe, every decade or so, they should be examined and analyzed. It is intended for information only, and should be digested in the vein in which it is being presented.
The story’s publication is not a negative reflection on any of the individuals who are among the Top 10 highest paid in our county. In fact, to a person, those who made the list have done stellar jobs at the helm of the agencies they run and have earned the salaries they’ve been paid. In fact, there are some on the list who, we would argue, probably don’t get paid enough for the responsibilities they shoulder and for the people they are charged with overseeing day in and day out.
What’s more, if compared to administrators in neighboring counties holding like positions, they probably are paid less.
Sure, if you look strictly at the dollar figure, the amount can seem exorbitant. That’s particularly true when compared to the county’s median household income, which hovers in the $36, 500 range.
But those who sit among the Top 10 have credentials that far exceed the majority of those who live within our midst, have worked longer, paid their dues by virtue of the other positions they’ve held as they’ve moved up the administrative ladder and are held to higher expectations because of all those reasons and others.
Most of those on the list are responsible for the jobs of hundreds of others; shoulder the burdens of keeping children safe, ensuring their educational success; oversee operations for county residents’ health; manage the interworkings of everything from county roads to how elections are run … and the list could continue.
In other words, the salaries you will peruse over the weekend are, in our estimation, justified, and the people who hold the positions valuable members of our community, not just for the titles they hold but for the responsible partners they have become.