Reality Check: 2 officials received over $70K combined in Greene's final days as manager
BUNCOMBE COUNTY, N.C. (WLOS) —
When senior Buncombe County official Jon Creighton recently retired, he finished off a career with the county that started March 8, 1982.
The county paid Creighton more than $300,000 in 2017. Of that money, $46,779.30 is from his early retirement retention incentive, but his salary exceeded $300,000 because of a bonus that, as far as News 13 knows, only two people received.
Under former County Manager Wanda Greene, some administrators worked in dual roles. For example, under Greene, Mandy Stone held the titles of Health and Human Services Director as well as Assistant County Manager. She explained Greene's preference.
"In most counties you would have both a health and human services director and an assistant county manger, and Dr. Greene's preference was to have one department director who also serves as assistant county manager," said Stone, who is now the current county manager.
Jon Creighton served as assistant county manager and as the planning director. The smaller staff could save the county money. Greene made Creighton an assistant county manager in 1998. Since 2006, the county says he received a supplement for his dual role. Personnel records show in 2014, 2015, and 2016, he received that supplement in early January. On January 6, 2017, he received a $35,160.12 supplement. Personnel records show the supplement was for the prior year. So, that supplement received in 2017 was paid out for his work done in 2016.
"There were a whole lot of things handed out from that point forward, a lot of money. A lot of candy," commissioners Mike Fryar and Ellen Frost told News 13 in an October interview.
Ten days after Greene announced her retirement, Creighton received another supplement, labeled for 2017, for $35,933.64. But Creighton wasn't the only one. Budget Director and Assistant County Manager Diane Price received what's labeled "A Multi-Director Bonus" twice in 2017. She got $35,160.12 in January 2017 and $35,933.64 in June 2017.
"Of everything, I can't accept those. I know by law we can't ask for employees to give that back, but those are two bonuses I have the hardest time with," Frost said.
You can see what the personnel records show here:
"I don't understand the rationale for it. I don't know what conversation happened between them and Dr. Greene, and that's just another one where I said, 'They're gone July 1,' and we're going to continue to make adjustments that bring us in line with other counties," Stone said.
Stone said she has gotten rid of dual roles. News 13 made attempts to talk with Diane Price and Jon Creighton.
"Any questions related to why and how the contracts were developed, or to bonuses that were given under the former county manager should be directed to Wanda Greene," Buncombe County spokesperson Kassi Day said.
Stone said she learned about the June payments around early October as the county completed a record request.
"I was very surprised about that, and I think I'm like any manager. It's not my preference to be surprised in a media request. So, I'll be honest about that," Stone said.
"I had been going to both individuals for quite a while, expressing concerns. So, nobody knew about those two bonuses," Frost said.
Stone started received a dual role supplement in 2006. She did not get a second supplement this year. Tim Flora also received a supplement for working as the IT director and finance director. He also did not get a second supplement payment in 2017.
Creighton's retirement went into effect January 1, 2018. County Attorney Michael Frue said they were recruiting a planning director, and Jim Holland will begin as an assistant county manager on February 1, 2018.