Mocksville manager gets bonus

Published 9:53 am Thursday, September 1, 2016

Mocksville commissioners approved on  3-2 vote July 7 to give a $5,000 bonus to Town Manager Christine Bralley. Three commissioners, Johnny Frye, Lash Sanford Jr. and Rob Taylor voted for the bonus, with Amy Vaughn-Jones and Brent Ward voting against.

Ward, who has been on the board about nine months, said Monday: “I just didn’t think this was the year to give a bonus, with the town facing a lawsuit and the cost of that.”

The town and former police chief Robert Cook were sued by fired officers Ken Hunter, Jerry Medlin, and Rick Donathan, who said their rights to free speech were violated when they were fired after calling the governor’s office to report alleged corruption in the department. They were originally awarded $4.1 million by a jury, but that amount was reduced by Judge Thomas D. Shroeder earlier this month to just under $1.8 million, which does not include amounts for retirement and supplemental separation allowance.

Ward said they are still waiting to hear those amounts.

His understanding is that bonuses are awarded to people who have performed “exceptional service or service beyond what is required,” and Ward said: “I just don’t feel a bonus was warranted at all. I have 5,300 bosses. We’re spending the money of the citizens of Mocksville, and I just don’t feel a bonus is appropriate this year. If next year goes well, then I have no problem looking at a bonus.”

But another commissioner, Lash Sanford Jr., said the lawsuit “in no way compromises how I feel about Christine. We are blessed and fortunate to have her as our manager. She deserves what we gave her and probably more. I believe in Christine. I have never known her to be anything but completely straight in what she has told us. I didn’t see this bonus as a bucket-breaking matter.”

Sanford has been on the board 15 years.

This was the first time a vote was taken during a meeting on the decision to approve a bonus.

In the past, said Mayor Will Marklin, former mayor Dr. Francis Slate would call each board member and ask them for their decision, but Marklin said when he became mayor last November, on advice of counsel Henry (Hank) Van Hoy II, he wanted the process to be on the public record.

The board discussed the matter of the bonus during a closed session, but returned to open session to vote.