I-Team investigation prompts review of executive salaries

I-Team investigation prompts review of executive salaries

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by STUART WATSON / NewsChannel 36

Bio | Email | Follow: @stuartwcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on December 15, 2010 at 1:31 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 15 at 1:32 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Following a NewsChannel 36 I-Team report, the Charlotte City Council is now looking into executive salaries paid for by tax dollars.

The I-Team discovered some executives earn more than the city manager, the county manager and the county schools superintendent.

The three executives we're talking about all have similar jobs. They're boosters and economic developers. They try to recruit new visitors, new businesses and new jobs to Charlotte.

For those jobs, they get paid more than the three men who run the city, the county and the schools.

Tim Newman is the CEO of the Charlotte Regional Visitor's Authority. He earns $300,000 a year. Ronnie Bryant, CEO of the Charlotte Regional Partnership, earns $318,000. Michael J. Smith, CEO of Charlotte Center City Partners, earns $347,000.

"They may have their own mission statements but they're doing the same thing," said Dan Bishop, a former Mecklenburg County commissioner.

An I-Team investigation in November questioned whether taxpayers could save money by streamlining the three big boosters.

"There's always an opportunity to save money," Smith, of Center City Partners, said. "It's called spending less. It's also called investing less."

"We don't need a tax-funded body to do nothing other than dream up the next way to ask for more money to boost Center City," Bishop said. "We've boosted the hell out of Center City."

Now, Democratic Councilman Michael Barnes is asking the Charlotte City Council to scrutinize this executive pay.

"Whose top leadership make more than the city manager," Barnes said.

Republican Councilman Andy Dulin said it may be time for taxpayers to step back.

"I don't know if we can find where they can save, but we may find where the government can back out a little bit and let the private sector take over," Dulin said.

The three CEOs declined to speak with NewsChannel 36 about their own salaries but defended their distinct missions.

In addition to looking into the three booster groups, City Council will look at salaries at the Arts and Science Council, which also receives local tax dollars.

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