WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Commissioners in New Hanover County were at odds over the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, but ultimately adopted it in a 3-2 vote earlier this month. A sticking point, in part, had to do with a more than 80 percent raise for commissioners.
While the budget passed with the raise included, Commission Chair Julia Olson-Boseman proposed a resolution for Tuesday’s meeting of the Board that would have kept the two commissioners who voted against the budget, Rob Zapple and Deb Hays, at the same pay rate.
“Commissioners Deb Hays and Rob Zapple desire to forego the increased payments approved in the FY-22 budget,” the resolution read in part.
The proposal, however, was pulled from the agenda prior to Tuesday’s meeting.
Her request for the item to be included on the agenda came after reading Hays’ and Zapple’s comments in media coverage following the adoption of the budget.
“From Vice Chair Hays and Commissioner Zapple’s comments in the StarNews, it appears they do not want the pay increase and other related benefits included. I’d like to add to the consent agenda an item which will allow them to remain at the current salary and benefits,” Boseman wrote in an email to County Manager Chris Coudriet.
Boseman insists the resolution was not made to single anyone out.
“It was never a vote against the other board members. I think the board members, Commissioner Zapple and Commissioner Hays, deserve to be paid a lot more than they are being paid. I think they are worth every penny of it. It was not anything against them, we just didn’t want them to take money they didn’t want,” she said.
Hays was at the meeting on Tuesday and did publicly announce she would like to turn down the pay increase, but did not offer additional comment. Zapple said he never indicated he desired to forego the raise.
“We were voting to allow them to follow their principles and their principles are important,” Boseman explained when asked about the resolution. “When it became pointed out to us that it was not necessary to have a resolution, that they could do that individually, then there is no need to have a public discussion anymore.”
While some tension over Boseman’s move appears to remain, both Zapple and Boseman shared sentiments that the best thing to do is to move on.
“I’m not sure what her motivation was but I am pleased that we will have a chance now to sit back, reset, talk it through, and come forward as a five-member board,” Zapple said.
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