JEFFERSON — The Ashe County Farmers Market Manager received a $3,000 raise for the 2019 market season from the county board of commissioners during its regular meeting in the courthouse at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22.
Farmers Market Board Vice President Amanda Gentry requested the commissioners provide the $3,000 raise for the 2019 part-time managerial position, raising the position’s pay from $10 an hour to $15 an hour.
Gentry said the market is in the processes of initiating a 3-year plan to make the operation more profitable and increase the manager’s salary by its own means, but in the meantime requested the commissioners fund the 2019 market manager raise, and the farmers market board will reassess its need for the funding in 2020.
“We feel that in 3 years we will be able to self-sustain,” Gentry said.
In previous years, there has been a high rate of turnover in the market manager position, likely due to pay, according to Gentry. Gentry said, the manager is responsible for overseeing 63 vendor slots at the Ashe County Farmers Market shelter, located on BackStreet in West Jefferson, in addition to marketing the market to tourists and organizing activities on market days.
“We feel that with what we are asking that person to do and the skillset which we’re asking, it really is a managerial position that needs to be compensated,” Gentry said.
The commissioners had some questions for Gentry clarifying the market’s need, then asked Ashe County Finance Officer Sandra Long if there was room in the budget to provide the farmers market its raise.
“We love the farmers market,” said Commissioner Larry Dix. “I think it goes without saying that agriculture is one of, if not the biggest drivers in Ashe County, and the farmers market is a significant avenue to showcase some of the agriculture in our county.”
Vice Chair William Sands motioned to provide the $3,000 raise to the Ashe County Farmers Market via a line item in its $10,000 occupancy tax budget, intended to be used for encouraging tourism, seconded by Dix. Instead of dipping into the occupancy tax budget, Commissioner Larry Rhodes motioned to use money from the economic development budget, seconded by Commissioner Paula Perry, and approved by all five commissioners.
During its 2018 season, the Ashe County Farmers Market was open from April to October, with special holiday market dates in November. For more information, or to apply for the market manager position, visit www.ashefarmersmarket.com.