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Commissioners likely to ask solons to raise their pay in 2017

Grady County commissioners have instructed the county attorney to move forward in preparing a resolution seeking local legislation to increase the pay for county commissioners here.
Last week, Kevin S. Cauley, attorney for the commissioners, told the elected officials it should not be an issue for Representative Darlene Taylor and Senator Dean Burke to champion the passage of the local legislation increasing the compensation provided the board votes unanimously in seeking the new legislation.
By going with local legislation, Cauley said the pay hike would take effect sooner than with other options.
While some commissioners have no problem moving forward, both Vice Chairman Elwyn Childs and Commissioner T.D. David said they “reluctantly” would agree to the county attorney moving forward with the process.
Commissioners have discussed increasing their pay for some time now and are considering a proposal which would tie commissioners’ pay with the base salary of the clerk of court, chief magistrate, probate judge and tax commissioner.
According to Carrie Croy, county clerk, all of those elected positions have a base salary of $49,721.70. By setting county commission pay on a percentage of that base salary, commissioners’ pay would increase as the pay for other elected officials increases.
Mrs. Croy said 11 percent of $49,721.70 has been discussed which would be $5,469.39. Currently, certified commissioners receive $3,660.19 annually and the chairman is paid an additional $2,100 annually. Newly elected commissioners, prior to earning certification, are paid $2,478.05 annually, according to Mrs. Croy.
In addition, commissioners are paid $1,800 annually for travel and are eligible for county health insurance, which is valued at $3,840 annually. Four of the five commissioners are enrolled in the county health plan and beginning in 2017 the insurance benefit will be reported as income that commissioners will have to pay taxes on.
Grady County Commission Chairman Charles Norton says that the salary for commissioners has not been adjusted since 1939.
Last week, Chairman Norton commented, “I’ve been on this board 20 years and people don’t realize how many hours are involved. It will not affect me, but I will vote for it because the commissioners need a pay increase.”
A 2015 wage and salary survey conducted by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs indicates that Grady County commissioners are paid significantly less than commissioners in surrounding counties.
According to the 2015 survey, which was for 2014 wages, the salaries paid were: Grady County – $3,731; Decatur County – $8,475; Thomas County – $5,657; Brooks County – $10,147; and Mitchell County – $7,142.
Compensation for commission chairmen from the 2015 survey were: Grady County – $5,075; Decatur County – $11,314; Thomas County – $7,425; Brooks County – $12,728; and Mitchell County – $8,078.
Cauley said he would have the resolution ready for the board’s approval at its Dec. 6 commission meeting. According to the county attorney, once the local legislation is passed by the General Assembly, the new salary would become effective the date the legislation is signed into law by the governor.
Commissioners likely will determine the final amount of the raise at their Dec. 6 meeting.

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