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City Manager Retirement Riches

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City Manager Curt Walton announced his retirement last week and will soon be riding off into the sunset with a truly sweetheart retirement package, thanks to the lucrative salaries and benefits that are routinely guaranteed to highly paid government bureaucrats. Walton, for but one example, pockets a $258,000 compensation package, courtesy of a 6-percent pay hike he received earlier this year, a scant few months before announcing his retirement.

Nowhere in the private sector can employees work 20 to 25 years and retire with 50 to 80 percent of their salaries, plus other benefits including healthcare. And don’t forget that healthcare in Charlotte-city government is unfunded; it is a budgetary item every year. During our current recession, unlike the private sector, government salaries and benefits continue to rise and the number of employees continues to grow.

Both former Charlotte city managers, Wendell White and Pam Syfert, retired at quite young ages with salaries for life exceeding $100,000 per year, plus other benefits. Former city attorney Mac McCarley retired last year under similar circumstances and immediately took a position with one of Charlotte’s prestigious law firms. In addition, we have several assistant city managers and department heads who have retired over the last 10 years who are receiving the same kind of generous taxpayer benefits. Some of them are employed in other areas, particularly the non-profits, double dipping with large salaries and benefits.

Counting the retirement of just three managers – White, Syfert, and now Walton – and a life expectancy of 30 years post retirement, we are talking about a payout of well over $3 million each. Add to this the salary and benefits of the manager who will be hired to replace Walton, a total of four city managers, and you can easily see one of the prime reasons our country is bankrupt, as well as many cities across the U.S. Contrary to government propaganda, there is no shortage of folks who want to work for the government. Little wonder! It would be shocking to see a printout of the top 100 highest paid city, county and school board retirees, listing their salaries and benefits!

For over 20 years Charlotte was one of the most prosperous cities in the U.S., thus the effects of this recession have been slower in arriving here. But they are coming and the signs are everywhere: cutbacks by Bank of America, whose headquarters is still here in name only; the need to borrow a billion dollars for crumbling infrastructure; the highest taxes in N.C.; a shifting of the tax burden to a smaller and smaller number of our citizens; the flight of productive people to surrounding counties; changing demographics that practically guarantee Democrat control of all elected bodies; a mayor dedicated to raising taxes; and elected officials who continue to spend as if nothing has happened.

St. Louis was one of the most prosperous and fastest growing cities in the 1950’s, the star of the Midwest, with over one million population. Today it has a population under 400,000 and is a disaster. There are many other similar examples. Unless Charlotte begins to adjust to today’s reality, the same can happen to us – and big government is a huge part of the problem.

Could it be that Walton sees the writing on the wall?

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