Raise proposed for city attorney

By Tom Joyce - tjoyce@civitasmedia.com

Mount Airy officials will consider a new contract for City Attorney Hugh Campbell this week which calls for a 66 percent pay raise.

The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners is scheduled to vote on that issue, which Campbell described Tuesday afternoon as a justifiable increase, during a meeting Thursday beginning at 2 p.m.

Campbell has been city attorney since 2002, which began through his affiliation at the time with the Gardner law firm that filled this role for decades.

City officials approved a contract with Campbell specifically in May 2012 after he left the Gardner firm and launched his own practice, Campbell Law Group.

At that time, his compensation was set at a monthly fee of $2,500, which amounts to $30,000 on an annual basis. The scope of work to be delivered in return was estimated at 30 hours per month.

Under the proposed new contract, that would go to $4,167 per month, a yearly figure of about $50,000, with a scope of work estimated at 25 hours each month.

Campbell said Tuesday that it has been a long time since he received a pay adjustment. “It’s been the same salary for 10 years,” the attorney explained.

“With the increase in city projects and different things going on, I feel that the adjustment is warranted,” Campbell said of an expanding work load from a legal standpoint for which he has received the same compensation.

Both the present and the proposed new contract also contain a provision for the attorney to be paid for additional services outside his normal course of work, at an hourly rate of $150. This would include cases involving litigation or other complex matters beyond the basic services, requiring prior approval by the city manager.

Campbell said that only once during his tenure has the extra charge been incurred for such services, which resulted from the city’s acquisition of the former Spencer’s industrial property last year. All other services have been covered by his base salary, the attorney said.

“I asked for an adjustment this year, and the city manager and the board…were happy to make that increase,” added Campbell, who also serves as attorney for the town of Dobson.

Of his new compensation level, he said, “this was a number that was researched by the human resources department.” This involved city Human Resources Director Becky McCann obtaining figures on what other cities pay attorneys in order to bring Mount Airy’s scale in line with that.

In addition to other compensation, the new contract calls for the municipality to pay two-thirds of the actual costs and expenses or $2,000, whichever is less, for the attorney to be a member of the North Carolina Municipal Attorneys Association. There is also a provision for the city to cover the cost of him attending continuing education legal courses related to municipal law.

If approved by the board, the new contract will expired on June 30, 2016 and be up for renewal on an annual basis.

Additional business

Among other items on Thursday’s agenda, the city commissioners are scheduled to:

• Award a contract for a resurfacing project at a U.S. Postal Service parking lot on South Main Street adjacent to the Municipal Building, which has been closed since January 2014. This is resulting from a city lease agreement for the site deemed as needed for public parking. Postal officials closed the lot because of budget constraints posed by needed repairs and liability concerns over its substandard state.

The cost of the resurfacing to the city was not available earlier this week because of the bidding process not being completed. A bid summary is to be provided to the commissioners before Thursday’s meeting.

• Consider rescinding an earlier ordinance to demolish a house at 145 Orchard St., due to a plan by a local couple to buy the property and bring the structure up to code.

• Address another code-related issue, the proposed demolition of a house at 338 Hay St.

• Consider a budget amendment relating to the removal of trees at Oakdale Cemetery which pose a threat to memorial stones from falling.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

By Tom Joyce


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