The North Wilkesboro commissioners on Nov. 9 unanimously approved the salary range of a new position planned in the town’s public works department.

The board approved a pay range of $65,000 to $85,000 annually for the new public utilities director position, an increase of the current salary range of $45,000-$72,000 for public services director. The boost is needed for the town to recruit competitively with towns of similar size, said Town Manager Wilson Hooper.

A few days before Public Services Director Dale Shumate retired on Sept. 1, the board voted to split his duties into two positions: public works director and public utilities director, the former expected to be an internal promotion.

The job description of the public utilities director calls for enhanced responsibilities that include both administrative and technical duties, some of which are currently performed by contractors, with a special emphasis on overseeing the town’s future water/sewer capital improvements.

The town’s current year costs of $95,684 for the position of public services director would increase in the next fiscal year to $188,772 for the twin positions. The difference in costs would be largely made up by principal and interest savings if the town is awarded as expected a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant from the N.C. Department of Commerce for the town’s under-construction water storage tower tank, Hooper noted.

The 500,000-gallon tank is currently being built in the town-owned Wilkes Industrial Park on River Road-Liberty Grove Road. The project is expected to cost $2.26 million, with the town footing $1.48 million of the bill.

The board made the salary range approval contingent upon the state budget passing with the grant intact. The town is expected to use the grant to reduce the amount borrowed for the project.

Hooper said it would take about four months from the passage of the state budget until the new public utilities director begins his or her employment with the town.

Other matters

Also on Nov. 9, the board:

• swore in new police officer Jacob Andrew Goldman. Officer Quentin Hart was also sworn in on Oct. 22; and

• named the road “Business Center Drive” leading to Wilkes Business Center, a 31,268-square-foot building being built on a Wilkes Economic Development Corp.-owned parcel directly behind the Knotville Fire Dept. off N.C. 268 East.

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