by Jordan Green

What cities pay their top employees says a lot about what’s important to their leadership.

For example, the city of Greensboro pays its coliseum director almost 50 percent more than its chief executive. The Greensboro Coliseum is a major economic driver that generates hotel and restaurant receipts, while drawing basketball fans from across the East Coast, concertgoers from around the region, along with swimmers and figure skaters, their families and entourages.

legoinside That the director of the High Point Theatre earns roughly a third of the director of the Greensboro Coliseum provides a good gauge of the relative importance of entertainment and events to the two cities’ respective economies. Of course, that doesn’t count the biannual furniture market in High Point — the largest event in the state — which is managed by a nonprofit that receives financial support from the city.

Winston-Salem has a coliseum, too, but as a measure of its relative importance consider that the city sold it to Wake Forest University in 2013. One Winston-Salem council member went so far as to say that the coliseum was “functionally obsolete.” Bookings for the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem are now handled by — wait for it — the Greensboro Coliseum.

It comes as no surprise that once you exclude the behemoth Greensboro Coliseum, salaries for city manager and assistant city managers top the list. With the exception of the city attorney, the city manager is the only employee hired and fired by city council. The city manager, who answers to nine bosses — the mayor and members of city council — is the one ultimately responsible for the administration, including putting together annual budgets and ensuring the smooth operation of city services. Assistant city managers typically supervise department heads, including police, fire, sanitation, planning, and parks and recreation, while answering to the city manager. Considering their level of responsibility — and the heat they’re going to experience if things go wrong — it makes sense that they would pull down salaries in the six figures.

Police and fire chiefs are also typically among a city’s highest-paid employees, reflecting both the value citizens place on public safety and the fact that they are responsible for departments with relatively high numbers of employees and large budgets.

But this year, the highest-paid city attorney earns more than the highest-paid police chief. Angela Carmon, Winston-Salem’s city attorney, is the highest compensated public legal employee in the Triad. Her $159,454 salary reflects the steady pay raises accumulated by a veteran whose legal acumen and work ethic has earned the respect of her city council. As one of two employees hired directly by the mayor and city council, the city attorney holds ultimate responsibility for protecting the city against legal exposure. The salaries earned by city attorneys and assistant city attorneys reflect the fiduciary importance of their work — advising elected officials and city administration on matters of the law, negotiating property transfers and defending the city against lawsuits.

The pecking order of pay between police and legal has been reversed since last year, with the departure of Greensboro police Chief Ken Miller, who earned $179,820 at the time of his retirement. Miller had received a hefty — and controversial — pay raise and then left to take the job of police chief of Greenville, SC. In comparison to Miller’s relative star status, the current police chiefs in Greensboro and Winston-Salem are more modestly compensated civil servants who were drawn from the ranks of their respective departments.

Outside of the executive and legal ranks, three city of Winston-Salem employees earn more than the police chiefs in any of the three cities: Community & Business Development Director Ritchie Brooks ($159,066), Planning & Development Services Director Paul Norby ($152,699) and Chief Information Officer Dennis Newman ($152,307). For what it’s worth, Newman heads the city’s IT department; the pay in public affairs isn’t quite so generous.

Pay for senior administration in finance, public works, human resources, parks and recreation, engineering and transportation tends to fall somewhere below police and fire — the two heavyweight public safety departments.

Clustering at the bottom of the spectrum are the “soft” functions: human relations, public affairs, legislative administration, libraries and museums.

Maybe the old aphorism applies: You get what you pay for.

{Top city salaries}

Entertainment facilities

1. Coliseum Director Matt Brown, Greensboro — $269,575

2. Deputy Coliseum Director Scott Johnson, Greensboro — $126,197

3. High Point Theatre Director David Briggs — $93,872

4. Fair Director David L. Sparks, Winston-Salem — $91,066

5. Coliseum Maintenance Supervisor Michael R. Perdue, Greensboro — $86,375

6. Coliseum Business Office Manager Colleen S. Vann, Greensboro — $80,132


1. City Manager Jim Westmoreland, Greensboro — $183,475

2. City Manager Lee Garrity, Winston-Salem — $179,739

3. Assistant City Manager Greg Turner, Winston-Salem — $176,130

4. Assistant City Manager Derwick Paige, Winston-Salem — $174,986

5. City Manager Greg Demko, High Point — $171,700

6. Assistant City Manager Randy McCaslin, High Point — $162,662

7. Assistant City Manager Wesley E. Reid, Greensboro — $142,769

8. Assistant City Manager David Parrish, Greensboro — $138,764

9. Assistant City Manager Christian Wilson, Greensboro — $132,775

10. Assistant City Manager Andy Scott, Greensboro — $130,063

11. Assistant City Manager Mary Vigue, Greensboro — $125,637

12. Assistant City Manager Ben Rowe, Winston-Salem — $124,789

13. Assistant to the City Manager Courtney L. Driver, Winston-Salem — $91,725

Moving in:

• Greg Demko was hired as the city manager of High Point at a salary of $171,700, replacing Strib Boynton who earned $168,168 in the role. Randy McCaslin returned to his position as assistant city manager after serving as interim city manager prior to Demko’s appointment.

Moving up:

• Christian Wilson received a promotion from parks & recreation director to assistant city manager in Greensboro, earning a 4 percent raise from $128,155 to $132,775.


1. City Attorney Angela Carmon, Winston-Salem — $159,454

2. City Attorney Tom Carruthers, Greensboro — $152,000

3. City Attorney JoAnne Carlyle, High Point — $151,501

4. Chief Deputy City Attorney Becky J. Peterson-Buie, Greensboro — $143,393

5. Deputy City Attorney Al Andrews, Winston-Salem — $115,100

6. Public Safety Attorney Lori P. Sykes, Winston-Salem — $97,443

7. Police Attorney Brian T. Beasley, High Point — $92,818

8. Assistant City Attorney Jerry Kontos, Winston-Salem — $90,817

9. Assistant City Attorney James A. Dickens Jr., Greensboro — $89,287

10. Assistant City Attorney James A. Clark, Greensboro — $89,040

11. Assistant City Attorney John P. Roseboro, Greensboro — $87,324

12. Assistant City Attorney Maria E. Guthold, Winston-Salem — $81,136

13. Assistant City Attorney Brent L. Cole, High Point — $79,533

14. Assistant City Attorney Deron K. Henry, Winston-Salem — $69,730

Moving up:

• Tom Carruthers was promoted from interim city attorney to city attorney in Greensboro, with a salary increase from $139,800 to $152,000. He replaced Mujeeb Shah-Khan, who continued to receive a salary of $166,860 in July 2014 following his termination.


  1. FYI…the director of the combined Guilford County DHHS just resigned…some nonsense about being offered a new job. He still had that “new boss smell.” You guys should really do some investigating here…the whole merger thing happened with barely a peep from people who usually care about such things, and they’ve been gutting employee benefits and rights the whole time, not to mention freezing salaries for six years. Things must be worse than we thought.

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