A select group of public officials across North Carolina receive large salaries and big benefits to run authorities, commissions or institutions that are overseen by political appointees and draw little public scrutiny.
With a salary cap lifted, trustees at four schools shifted housing allowances, annuities and car allowances to salaries. Some leaders acknowledged the moves were intended to increase the presidents’ retirement pay.
A review of state pension records from 2011 shows that nearly 1 out of every 5 state and local employees received a bonus. The bonuses can count toward calculating an employee's pension. Yet they don't show up in many public salary records or databases.
Trapped by glacial state wages and sparse promotions, Renee Wilkins handles paperwork at Wake County's courthouse by day. At night, she waits tables and tends bar. In between, she cares for her two boys.