David Cheek’s tenure as city manager came to a close Monday; city councilmen commended Cheek for his service.
Former mayor Glendel Stephenson, who retired last year, was on hand, as well. In addition to praising Cheek’s time at Mebane’s helm, Stephenson announced that Gov. Roy Cooper has awarded Cheek the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian honor that North Carolina’s governor can issue. Previous recipients include both Stephenson and councilman Tim Bradley.
Several members lamented that the coronavirus pandemic had caused Cheek’s last city council meeting to be held by the Zoom teleconferencing platform rather than in person, a phenomenon that council member Jill Auditori said made the online nature of saying goodbyes to Cheek seem “inadequate.”
Council member Patty Philipps praised Cheek for embodying “the positivity and charm” of Mebane. Hooks praised Cheek for having brought a lot of professionalism to the city through his hires in “putting together a great staff.”
Rollins’ salary set
Later in the meeting, councilmen considered the recommendation of mayor Hooks to set Chris Rollins’ salary at the same level as Cheek’s had been, $199,000, which represented an $8,000 increase from his assistant manager’s level of $191,000.
In doing so, Mebane continued its reputation for having the highest-paid city officials in Alamance County.
Cheek, at $199,000 annually, had been the county’s highest–paid municipal employee. Rollins, at $191,000 had been the county’s second highest- paid municipal official and with his raise, he replaced Cheek as the highest-paid.
By comparison, The Alamance News obtained salary figures for the top administrators from finance officers in Burlington and Graham, historically the two larger municipalities. (Note: there has been some discussion and debate about whether Mebane has overtaken Graham as the second largest municipality in Alamance County; officials in both cities are awaiting a final determination via the upcoming release of final census figures.)
Burlington city manager Hardin Watkins makes $180,960 in annual salary and has a $6,000 travel allowance. Meanwhile, Nolan Kirkman, who serves as assistant city manager for development services, makes $159,182; Rachel Kelly, who is assistant city manager for administrative services, makes $101,834; meanwhile Bob Patterson, Burlington’s water resources director, whose salary is set at an assistant’s manager’s scale, makes $138,448.
In Graham, outgoing city manager Frankie Maness makes $138,703, while assistant manager Aaron Holland makes $112,005. Graham city council members are scheduled to consider a $5,600 raise, bringing Holland’s salary to $117,605 for his forthcoming duties as interim city manager, at their next meeting Tuesday night.
Mebane’s new assistant city manager, Preston Mitchell, started with that city recently at a salary of $145,000.