Buncombe sheriff answers questions on retirement bonus, county manager investigation
Current Buncombe County management says former county manager Wanda Greene gave a bonus to 11 people, including herself, so those people would not retire early.
In 2014, the county started the early retirement incentive package that included a year’s salary. In 2016, the budget included a different deal.
Wanda Greene offered that deal to herself and 10 others, including Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan.
The current county management said Greene offered Duncan and others a year’s salary as a retention bonus not to retire immediately. It’s the same benefit, but early.
The bonus was supposed to be paid out over three years on a bi-weekly basis. However, it’s already been paid out in full.
Records provided by Buncombe County show Sheriff Van Duncan received about $125,000. The payments finished in a lump sum.
“What really kind of really frustrates me, and makes me angry and bothers me, is the fact that I’ve worked very hard for the people of this county for twelve years. I in no way thought I was doing anything wrong, and at the end of the day, right near retirement, I’m going out under a cloud,” Duncan told News 13.
Duncan said he first fought against getting a lump sum, and he wasn’t sure where to bring his concerns. He didn’t question the legality of it because the bonus was part of the personnel ordinance.
“Wanda and I have had a very tenuous relationship down through the years, and I’m not at liberty to talk a whole lot. I know quite a bit more about the investigation than I’m at liberty to talk about. I can only talk about where it involves me, and what the Commissioners have chosen to release at this time,” Duncan said.
Duncan said he met with the FBI and SBI before the investigation was publicly confirmed in August. When the U.S. Attorney’s office confirmed it, they said they were investigating Greene and others.
Duncan said he is not under investigation.
“No. I absolutely am not. I will say in talking about what happened in my situation, they used the word as more of a victim in what has taken place here,” the sheriff said.
If Duncan waited to retire under the early retirement package, he still would’ve gotten a year’s salary, and it would’ve been paid out at what his salary will be at retirement, not what it was.
Greene received a year’s worth of salary as a retention bonus. She received $241,790.73 as the bonus, according to county records.
Buncombe County sent a draft of Greene’s “Early retirement incentive waiver/agreement” to News 13 on Friday. The agreement stipulates the payment was in exchange for staying through 2017, which she didn’t. Buncombe County does not have a copy of the agreement signed.
“I think what a lot of it comes down to is she did what she did around other employees to give cover, so then she could do that, plus for herself," Duncan said. "And at the end of the day, they’ll be a lot of people hurt by it."