Pilot Mountain, as we have reported on several occasions, has found itself in tough financial straits.
Through poor budgeting and spending money it really didn’t have, the town has found itself running short in the present year budget. Once an audit generated concern at the state level over the budget, and other concerns surfaced, the town’s manager was fired, and shortly thereafter Pilot Mountain’s finance director also found himself out of work.
The commissioners have since hired Homer Dearmin as town manager, and he, along with the commissioners, have been struggling to find ways to make the town’s budget conform to existing revenue. Together they have found areas in which to cut some of those expenses, and were able to recover about $60,000 of the misspent funds because the former finance director’s work was partially bonded by an insurance firm.
Those steps have not been enough, forcing Dearmin to take additional, and painful, steps to further cut spending. Monday night he unveiled those, which included having town employees take six unpaid days of leave over the rest of the fiscal year, which ends June 30.
That amounts to an average of a 2.7-percent pay cut for the six months.
There are two particularly important facts to consider in this move. One, Dearmin suggested these steps as a way to be responsible to the residents of the town by not overspending, but at the same time spread out that pain evenly, and hopefully in small quantity, among all of the town’s employees.
Two, and perhaps most important of all, Dearmin is sharing in that loss. He is foregoing a scheduled pay raise that was set to take effect on May 1, and in addition he is taking two days of unpaid furlough.
The residents of Pilot Mountain should take comfort in the fact that, in sharp contrast to the previous leadership regime, the town manager is exhibiting strong leadership in the face of difficult circumstances, and is putting himself on the same level as all town employees in sharing the pain.