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Meck commissioners approve compensation package for selves; teachers unhappy

Published: Jun. 22, 2016 at 2:46 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 22, 2016 at 3:44 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Mecklenburg County commissioners voted to give themselves more money for expenses, but not before they heard it from the public. Some teachers said they believe the money should go to education.

Currently, commissioners make $25,932. The chair of the board is paid more. Under the new compensation package, commissioners will get a 3% increase in base pay. All county workers will receive that increase.

Commissioners will also see an jump in general expenses from $5,800 to $8,251.

Technology allowance will increase from $3,100 to $4,410.

There will also be an auto allowance of $4,000.

The county doesn't pay teachers' salaries - the state does.
Mecklenburg County does supplement the pay for some CMS staff.
Teachers said when they heard commissioners were voting on a compensation package for themselves that include increase for their expenses - many decided to show up and speak out against it.
Even two commissioners voted against it.

"I don't think that public servants mean we should live our lives as paupers but at the same time I don't think it means we should greatly enrich ourselves from the public treasury" said Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour.

One teacher told commissioners "I'm a teacher with 10 years of experience in the teaching field and a Master's degree. After all of this hard work I am now making what you would make with your proposed plan for your part-time job."

Commissioner Vilma Leake said she took offense to the public is saying about the compensation package,

"The emails that I have received saying to me how nasty I am to ask for a pay raise. How dirty you are to ask for a pay raise. Who do you think you are" she said some people told her.

"I am not a part time county commissioner. I am a full time county commissioner. I'm here," Leake added. "I work for the people of Mecklenburg County. I made a choice to run for office and I said that I would serve the people."

Leake said "I love what I do. And I ask you not to condemn us."

But another teacher had a different perspective.

"I'd like to talk to you about the secret shame of poverty that I'm burdened with," she told commissioners. "I'm a highly educated poor person. Two years ago I was on food stamps but now I work 70-80 hours a week and I still struggle to pay my bills."

That teacher said "Incidentally my job doesn't pay for my internet either. I can't afford internet. Our schools don't provide phones in the classroom so I use personal technology to call parents, get work emails and to communicate with my colleagues."

The commissioners compensation package is part of the $1.6 billion county budget that was approved.

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