LUMBERTON — The Robeson County Board of Commissioners on Monday unanimously approved a higher pay scale for the position of director of the county Elections Office.
The action was taken at the request of Joshua Malcolm, chairman of the Board of Elections, who said the increase was needed to make the salary more competitive with similar positions across the state. The board is currently seeking a replacement for Dock Locklear, who retired at the beginning of the year. Locklear had served as the elections director for more than six years.
County Manager Ricky Harris said that the salary scale for the position has been between $45,000 and $56,000, and the new scale allows a salary between $50,000 and $65,000.
Since Jan. 1, Tina N. Bledsoe has been serving as director. Bledsoe has been an employee of the county Board of Elections for 14 years, working most recently as a computer technician.
Malcolm told the county commissioners Monday that for the past six weeks the county’s three-member Elections Board has been seeking advice from the State Board of Elections, especially its director, Gary Bartlett, on the hiring of a new director. Malcolm requested that the Board of Elections director be moved into a new pay scale so the salary would be in line with those paid to directors in other counties.
Malcolm said that with approval of the new pay scale, a job description can be completed and the position advertised.
“… We can now move forward,” he said.
On Monday, the commissioners also moved forward with their plans to construct a new county jail by voting to hire an architectural firm to conduct a needs assessment.
At the recommendation of Commissioner David Edge, chairman of the county’s Jail Committee, the board agreed to hire Moseley Architects, of Charlotte, to conduct the study. Harris said the amount the firm will be paid will be negotiated.
“They will conduct the the study and develop a footprint of what we need to do,” Edge said.
The need for a new county jail to replace the overcrowded and antiquated detention center located on Legend Road was a major issue discussed by the commissioners last week during their three-day annual retreat.
Sheriff’s Maj. George Kenworthy told the commissioners that keeping the jail population down is a constant struggle, with the average daily population during 2012 about 400 inmates, or 20 fewer than the facility’s permitted capacity. He also said that the jail needs a number of repairs, including major roof repairs to stop leaks.
During Monday’s meeting, Commissioner Noah Woods, the board’s chairman, asked fellow commissioners to do their homework.
“You really need to visit other county jails and see what is working and not working,” Woods said. “You are going to need that information before long.”
In other business, the commissioners on Monday:
— Passed a resolution supporting the 2013-14 legislative goals of the N.C. Association of County Commissioners. The top five goals are: oppose shift of state transportation responsibilities to counties; reinstate ADM and lottery funds for school construction; oppose unfunded mandates and shifts of state responsibilities to counties; ensure adequate mental health funding; and preserve the existing local revenue base.
— Appointed Buddy Bodiford of Lumberton, Robert Moore of Lumberton, and Alford Parnell of Parkton to the county’s Board of Equalization and Review. Parnell was also reappointed as chairman. William L. Oxendine,of Pembroke, was appointed first vice chairman and Dan Lewis, of Orrum, was appointed second vice chairman.