Survey: Baker's salary appropriate

York County Manager Jim Baker's salary is among the top three figures paid to county administrators in the state, according to a survey by the S.C. Association of Counties.

Kathy Williams, director of the S.C. Association of Counties, said Baker's $155,000 annual paycheck is in line with York County's location and economic status.

"York County is a bedroom community of Charlotte, and salaries are usually higher," Williams said. "It's not just population going into how much a manager makes, but growth, per capita income and economic development are factors, too, and those are higher (than state averages) in York County."

Baker was hired by the York County Council last month from his position as an administrator for St. Louis County in Missouri where he earned more than $142,000 a year. He replaces former manager Al Greene, who resigned last December.

Greene was paid an annual salary of $122,650.

According to the 2006-2007 SCAC survey, the top administrators in fast-growing, coastal Charleston and Horry counties make up to $188,843 and $164,861, respectively, placing Baker third on the list. The Upstate counties of Greenville and Spartanburg pay their managers $150,000 and $127,296, respectively, according to the survey.

Williams said Beaufort County, with its proximity to Savannah, Ga., and higher income levels than most of the state, is a good comparison to York County. The Beaufort County manager is paid $141,143 annually, the survey shows.

The average salary for managers in South Carolina's 13 most populated counties is $121,376, the survey shows. Some administrators also receive allowances for vehicles and cell phones, Williams said.

"It (Baker's salary) fits right in there. I think it's reasonable," she said. "Local government administrators are in demand."

York County Council Chairman Buddy Motz said the council used the SCAC survey as a guide for setting Baker's salary.

"That was one of the benchmarks we used," he said, adding that the council also compared salaries of other local administrators. "We didn't want to come up with a number out of thin air."

Motz said Baker isn't being paid too much. He said the council wanted to pay him a number suitable for today's demands, but also for the population growth sweeping into York County. He said Baker's strong resume as an administrator in the St. Louis area makes him well qualified for growth planning.

"The number we came up with we felt was very equitable considering his experience and abilities," Motz said. "We're very fortunate to have him. He's qualified to manage Charlotte or any other metropolitan area."