Commissioner raises in Gwinnett? Answer: Yes.

UPDATE: Commissioners salaries to double, Chairman gets no raise:

In 3-1 vote, Commissioners Mike Beaudreau, Lorraine Green and Kevin Kenerly hiked the salaries for their part-time, elected jobs from roughly $14,000 to $29,000. The pay raise also applies to the district post held by Bert Nasuti, who is recovering from surgery and missed the meeting.

Despite the raises, Gwinnett’s commissioners will remain among the lowest-paid county leaders in metro Atlanta. Commissioners in Fulton, Cobb and DeKalb counties earn between $38,000 and $41,000 a year.

Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charles Bannister voted against the raises. A last-minute amendment by Beaudreau — which Bannister accepted — eliminated a raise proposed for the full-time chairman’s pay. His pay would have risen from $56,000 to $99,000.

Bannister opposed the raises because they come just two weeks after board members cut the county’s proposed 2007 budget by $6 million. The raises will cost taxpayers roughly $100,000 a year starting in 2009.

“I just question the timing,” Bannister said prior to the vote. “I’m not questioning the fact that there’s probably some desire and need for the change … in some salaries. The timing just isn’t right in my mind to do this.”

Raises for politicians are always an explosive issue. Even when the raise might be justified, politicians are rightly hesitant to broach the subject as it’s hard to convince taxpayers of the merits of such a proposal. Nevertheless, Gwinnett Commissioner Lorraine Green is pushing a pay raise for Gwinnett County Commissioners and the Commission Chairman:

Currently, the four Gwinnett commissioners collect a base salary of $12,500.

That would climb to $29,800 if the board passes the pay raise resolution.

The chairman’s salary would jump from $50,000 to $99,000.

Commissioner Lorraine Green called the proposed pay raises “reasonable” and predicted the board would approve them.

But commission Chairman Charles Bannister said he has “no intention of voting for it.”

“Cut the budget and then turn around and vote myself a pay increase? Not me,” Bannister said.

Bannister was referring to the board’s last-minute vote to cut $6 million from the county’s budget earlier this month.

Bannister has previously tried to get the Legislature to approve the raises:

But the lawmakers balked at Bannister’s request and said the commissioners should raise their own pay if needed.

Legislators pointed to state law enacted in 2001 that gave county governing authoritities(sic) the power to do just that.

It’s likely that Bannister and Green will face each other in 2008 for the Commission Chairman job and I expect this issue and today’s vote will be a hot campaign issue.

3 comments

  1. Jmac says:

    A lot of it depends on the volume of work they’re doing. Gwinnett County is a rapidly growing county and requires more and more of the the time of these ‘part-time’ commissioners. They deserve to be justly compensated for their work.

    The chairman’s pay bump, I’ll admit though, seems kinda much.

  2. Mike Hauncho says:

    I know I would not complain if I was offered a 100% raise. Why do they get to vote on their own raises anyways?

  3. drjay says:

    according to the ajc article the raises will not go into effect until 09–after the next election–so strictly speaking they are not raising their own pay–also according to the article they have asked for action from the state ledge on this in the past and were finally told that a law/the law was in effect that allowed them to take the action

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