For the second time in 7 months, the Smithfield Town Council has approved a significant pay increase for their new town manager. During a closed session last week to review Michael Scott’s performance during his first few months on the job, the council emerged from closed session and voted to give Scott an additional 10 percent pay increase. Scott was given a 16 percent pay raise in May when he was promoted from police chief to town manager
Scott was making $81,460 as chief of police. When he was named manager his salary was increased to $95,001. With the latest pay raise his salary will jump to $104,501 on January 1st.
When he was hired on May 3rd, Scott lacked any experience as a town manager. At the direction of Mayor Andy Moore, the Town agreed to pay $20,800 to keep interim Town Manager Jim Freeman on the payroll an extra 10 weeks to assist with Scott’s training. Freeman was paid for 267 hours of work at a rate of $60 per hour or $16,020. He was reimbursed $2,220.65 for mileage from his home in Troutman, NC to Smithfield. Each mileage check was between $201.91 and $807.41. He was also paid $1,563.66 for 8 different motel stays at the Sleep Inn & Suites with each stay ranging from $148.92 to $223.38.
Mayor Pro Tem Defends Salary
Smithfield Mayor Andy Moore did not respond to an email request for comment on the latest pay raise but Mayor Pro Tem Emery Ashley did.
“We chose Mike as our Town Manager over candidates with experience ranging from many years to very few. Although Mike had no town manager experience, Mike brought to the table many qualities which we felt outweighed the lack of “town manager” experience,” Ashley said. “The Council felt he was the right person for the job and he has proven the Council right. Due to his knowledge of Smithfield, he was able to hit the ground running. In his contract, we set forth benchmarks and he has surpassed them all.”
“Mike was hired at a cost lower than comparable communities and lower than we could have hired a candidate with town manager experience. Not only did we want to reward Mike, we also wanted to send him a vote of confidence and encouragement. Even with the 10 percent raise, his compensation remains lower than comparable communities, and we are fortunate to have him and his family in Smithfield.”
Only two government leaders in Johnston County make more than Scott. His $104,501 salary is higher than that of longtime Benson Town Manager Matt Zapp who makes $92,905, and more than Kenly manager Greg Dunham at $76,226, and Selma manager Jon Barlow at $92,920. However it is less than newly hired Clayton town manager Adam Lindsay whose annual salary is $147,000 and Johnston County manager Rick Hester who makes $170,340.
Former Smithfield Managers Paid Less
Scott’s starting salary of $95,001 is higher than the previous two managers hired, both with many years of experience.
In 2009, the Smithfield Town Council hired Eric Williams as their town manager. Williams brought 22 years of experience as the former Town Manager in Henderson. He was paid $92,518.40.
In 2012, when Williams was fired from his job, Paul Sabiston who had been the city manager in Roanoke Rapids, Shallotte and Boiling Lakes, and a city administrator in Mexico Beach, Florida was hired with a starting salary of $95,000.
In addition to his salary, Scott receives a $300 per month car allowance including mileage reimbursement for travel outside Johnston County. He accrues vacation and sick time like a town employee with 20 plus years of employment. The Town of Smithfield also pays his dues for two in-town civic organizations, $70 per month for his cell phone, and also covers his health insurance, and pays for long term disability insurance.
According to an internet search, the median salary of a town manager in the United States with 10 years of experience is $73,697 with a average starting salary of $43,631.