Durham Republican Party

Rescind Ruffin's Raise 

An Open Letter to the Durham County Commissioners

While Mike Ruffin is indeed a valuable employee to the County of Durham, the Durham Republican Party is hereby requesting that you rescind the 10% raise that you recently awarded him.  With this $18,000 raise, his new salary will be $197,000 per year.


In the just ended election, you stated that a tax increase was required to properly fund the public schools.  There was no mention of a need to fund salary increases for county administrators.  The Durham Republican Party opposed the tax increase.  We took this position for many reasons.  One such reason is because we know that money is fungible.


Time and time again, Durham County has demonstrated an irresponsible use of the resources that are provided to them by the hard working citizens of the county.  You have proved our point within 24 hours of the election results.


In order to justify Mr. Ruffin's salary increase, you supposedly looked at a peer group of ten comparable North Carolina counties to see how Mr. Ruffin's salary compared.  The data showed that his pay, before the raise, was in the upper half of the peer group.  His performance evaluation garnered a rating of "Meets Expectation."  Neither the peer evaluation data nor the performance evaluation justify a 10% raise ... even in a thriving economy.  With an unemployment rate in Durham of greater than 8% and the unemployment rate within the black community of greater than 15%, this pay raise is a slap in the face of every Durham County citizen.  It is especially offensive to those misfortunate Durham residents who are currently unemployed. 


Could it be that Mr. Ruffin was being rewarded for his Op Ed piece in the Durham Herald Sun on the Sunday before the election? Mr. Ruffin certainly did not disclose that he had an upcoming $18,000 incentive to write as he did.


At the Strategic Plan Forums you are conducting, you have indicated that an "item of concern" is that county employees are worried about the competitiveness of their pay. We do not yet have the data to ascertain the veracity. Given this economy, it is doubtful that pay equality trumps job security.  


Assuming there is such a concern, it can hardly be assuaged by the grant of an unwarranted 10% increase to an already highly compensated employee. Rank and file employees have not received a raise for two years and are limited this year to 3.5% when their performance rating is "Meets Expectation."  So, how do you justify the enormous increase in Mr. Ruffin's pay? 


Your action is not only "jaw dropping," it is a breach of the trust of the voters, taxpayers and employees of Durham County. 



Theodore Hicks

Chairman, Durham County Republican Party



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