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Charlotte city manager's new $435,000 salary tops colleagues in larger cities

The Charlotte City Council approved a 14% raise for City Manager Marcus Jones Monday. He's now among the highest paid city managers in the country.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With little discussion, the Charlotte City Council solidified Marcus Jones as one of the highest-paid city managers in the country earlier this week.

By a vote of 9-3, council members boosted Jones' base salary to nearly $435,000. He also receives $32,200 in deferred compensation, a $5,700 annual car allowance and a $3,100 expense allowance, according to a City of Charlotte spokesperson.

A WCNC Charlotte review of the most recently available data and published news reports revealed Jones' base pay is now higher than that of his colleagues in all but five other cities, including some larger cities.

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For example, Jones' new base salary is almost $65,000 more than his counterpart in Phoenix makes. Phoenix is home to roughly three-quarters of a million more people than Charlotte. It is the largest city in the country with a council-manager form of government but has a smaller operating budget. The city manager in Phoenix makes $370,000 and doesn't receive additional "perks beyond the standard benefits provided to all executive level city employees," Director of Communications Dan Wilson told WCNC Charlotte.

In a matter of just five minutes Monday night, Jones' salary skyrocketed from $379,000 to almost $435,000: the equivalent of a 14% retroactive raise spread out over two years.

WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to WCNC Charlotte by emailing money@wcnc.com.

Councilmember LaWana Mayfield, seated right next to Jones, was the only elected official to publicly criticize the increase during the brief discussion period.

"I think council is showing a level of being tone deaf to the issues that we have," she said. "Yes he does a great job … this is truly a level of not really hearing what is going on in our community to even have the conversation."

In addition to Mayfield, Councilmember Renee Johnson and Mayor Pro-Tem Braxton Winston also voted against the raise, which effectively gives Jones a larger percentage raise than any of the employees who work beneath him.

WFAE reported Councilmember Ed Driggs said the decision to increase Jones' pay was partly based on what other managers across the country make.

Records obtained by WCNC Charlotte Friday show Charlotte City Council knew Jones was already among the top paid before increasing his salary. A comparison survey, compiled by Human Resources in October and provided to council members, listed Jones' prior total compensation as the second highest of the top cities with the council-manager form of government.

That comparison also identified Mecklenburg County County Manager Dena Diorio's total compensation as $489,526, which includes a one-time $20,000 bonus. Jones' total package is now roughly the same.

Records and reports reviewed by WCNC Charlotte earlier this week show Jones is now paid more base salary than city managers in the larger cities of Austin, Dallas, San Jose and Fort Worth. Of those cities, Austin and Fort Worth have smaller budgets than Charlotte.

Only city managers in Fremont, Sacramento, Santa Clara, El Paso and San Antonio make more than Jones, according to WCNC Charlotte's review.

Records analyzed by WCNC Charlotte show city managers in Raleigh, Greensboro, Durham and Winston-Salem make less than $300,000 in base pay.

Contact Nate Morabito at nmorabito@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

WCNC Charlotte is committed to reporting on the issues facing the communities we serve. We tell the stories of people working to solve persistent social problems. We examine how problems can be solved or addressed to improve the quality of life and make a positive difference. WCNC Charlotte is seeking solutions for you. Send your tips or questions to newstips@wcnc.com.

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