Mr. Chairman, you’re joking, right? You have to ask if they want a raise?
Lee told the Journal’s Jon Gillooly that he would soon make a decision about asking the legislative delegation to support pay raises for county elected officials. The Legislature will have to approve any raise.
A proposal to increase the pay of elected officials might have been foreseen after the commissioners approved a 3 percent across-the-board pay hike for all county employees last November, their first since 2008.
The vote was 4-1 with commissioner Bob Ott opposed. He favored a one-time Christmas bonus instead of committing to a permanent salary hike in this sluggish economy.
Lee floated the raise for elected officials all on his own, saying his fellow commissioners are first on his list for feedback and he will talk with them “in the next week or two as to what they want to do.” He said most of the comments he had received endorsed the 3 percent hike as “well deserved for every county employee including elected officials.”
Ott let it be known right away that he is against a raise for county officials “in these times.” In comments to the Journal, he reiterated his support for a bonus for county employees last year, adding: “I stated back then that the bonus did not need to include us,” meaning him, his fellow commissioners and no doubt other elected officials. Ott said he did not believe the people in his district would support a raise.
The chairman of Cobb’s legislative delegation, state Sen. Judson Hill (R-East Cobb), said he will ask his colleagues “their opinions and advice” on Lee’s pay raise proposal. And he said he would ask for “input from those individuals for whom pay raises would be considered.”
Now that will be interesting feedback. How many elected officials other than Bob Ott will say they don’t want a raise? Undoubtedly, most if not all feel they deserve it.
A large number of officials would be eligible, including not only 15 judges, five associate judges, the tax commissioner and the solicitor general but the chief deputies of the courts and the sheriff’s department and clerks of the various courts plus top executive staff of the sheriff and tax commissioner.
While he is planning an email poll of county elected officials, Lee said he had not heard any opposition from local residents.
He said his “sense” is that the people “are okay with it, and the ones that have chosen to speak to me have said it’s reasonable.”
The chairman did not say how many people have expressed their views, nor did he say he would do a poll of his constituents on this question.
Maybe he will just rely on sensing what the people think?