Cobb commissioners and other officials would decline pay hike
by Jon Gillooly
January 24, 2013 12:03 AM | 4439 views | 9 9 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Commission Chairman Tim Lee (MDJ Staff/Emily Barnes)
Commission Chairman Tim Lee (MDJ Staff/Emily Barnes)
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MARIETTA — All four Cobb district commissioners say they will not ask the state Legislature for a pay raise.

Commissioners Lisa Cupid, Bob Ott, Helen Goreham and JoAnn Birrell each say they will decline any raises.

“I do not support a pay increase for elected officials at this time, personally, but I can only speak for myself as a county commissioner,” Birrell said. “If it’s approved by the Legislature, I will decline it.”

In November, commissioners granted a 3 percent pay raise to the county’s 4,000 employees. But the raises don’t come automatically for elected officials, who must get approval from Cobb’s legislative delegation. The same process applies to the top assistants of elected officials, such as the sheriff’s chief investigator and chief deputy.

Commission Chairman Tim Lee said Friday he was trying to decide whether to ask the delegation for pay raises for the officials in question. In the same interview, he said he hadn’t heard anyone object to the raises and believed they would receive public support.

Lee was asked the same question on Wednesday.

“Since the article in the paper and the TV station picked it up, I’ve heard from quite a few folks who would rather us not do that, but I think there’s people who think we haven’t done anything yet, and they don’t understand that we’ve already passed it (for employees),” Lee said. “This is just for the elected officials. It has nothing to do with staff.”

Lee said he hoped to resolve the issue by the end of the month.

Sheriff Neil Warren and Cobb Solicitor General Barry Morgan said they would not be asking the delegation for raises, joining the ranks of Ott, Goreham and Birrell in declining any extra money.

“I believe these economic times make it inappropriate for me to request a raise,” Morgan said in an email. “The women and men in the solicitor’s office work very hard every year to seek justice in over 100,000 cases, and I am happy their efforts were rewarded by the Board of Commissioners with the first raise since 2008, but I don’t believe asking for a raise for me is appropriate.”

Warren said while he would not be asking for a raise for himself, he would ask for a 3 percent increase for the three positions whose salaries are set by the Legislature: Chief Deputy Sheriff Lynda Coker; the chief investigator, Col. Milton Beck; and the executive assistant to the sheriff, Nancy Bodiford. Warren said he was doing this because all department heads and other employees in Cobb received the same raise in November, and the county has appropriated funds accordingly.

While some are declining to ask for a raise, judges who serve on the Cobb State Court are not among them.

Cobb State Court Chief Judge Toby Prodgers and state court judges Carl Bowers, Melodie Clayton, David Darden, Irma Glover, Maria Golick, Kathryn Tanksley, Eric Brewton, Bridgette Campbell, Jason Fincher and Marsha Lake will be asking for the raise, said Donna Tschappa, director of State Court Services.

“The Cobb County government has already budgeted for this adjustment and, accordingly, a request is being made for the judges of the State Court of Cobb County to participate as well. We note that this would be the first salary adjustment in five years,” Tschappa said in an email.

Cobb Superior Court Judge Jim Bodiford said the question of whether superior court judges would ask for raises should be answered by Chief Judge Adele Grubbs. Bodiford said the judges were in Athens for the annual Superior Court Seminar.

Other officials who are eligible for the raise but did not respond by press time include Superior Court Clerk Rebecca Keaton, Tax Commissioner Gail Downing, administrative specialist to the tax commissioner, chief deputy state court clerk, chief deputy superior court clerk, probate court clerk, state court clerk, deputy tax commissioner, executive secretary to the tax commissioner and the probate court judge.

State Sen. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb), chairman of the Cobb legislative delegation, has asked those eligible for the raise to contact him by the end of the month to let him know of their intentions of accepting or rejecting it.

 

Comments
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Incomplete
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January 24, 2013
Wouldn't journalistic ethics require the MDJ to also report which of these elected officials voluntarily reduced their salaries during the recent furlough periods? No newspaper outrage then! Look it up and tell the whole story.
Watcher...
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January 24, 2013
The responses that Sen. Judson Hill receives will be interesting.

Cobb Voters will be watching!
Just Wait
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January 24, 2013
We should thank those elected officials who refused the pay raise. Sheriff, good for you but you dropped the ball on your Chiefs. If they can't live on a 6 figure salary, sounds like poor planing on their part. Judges, you should be ashamed. You should remember you ran for that office to insure justice is served, not to pad your pockets.
From Kennesaw
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January 24, 2013
Quote from MDJ's first page on January 20, 2013: "County commission chairman Tim Lee said he will decide soon whether to ask the local legislative delegation for pay raises for elected Cobb County officials, including himself."

Well, as it is up to Tim Lee, just don't bother to ask our wonderful legislators to arrange for more money. Our local elected officials for now have enough. And we, the voters, were never asked.
Retired SO
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January 24, 2013
If I remember correctly didn't Chief Coker make the comment last year that the employees of the Cobb County Sheriff's Office were just happy to have a job and no raise was necessary? Perhaps she should apply this same erroneous statement to herself as well and decline a pay increase when offered. She is currently being paid plenty as a political appointee and a clueless Chief Deputy. If she had to withstand an end of the year job evaluation as the Deputies must do, she would no doubt would receive a D- with no pay increase! Come on Sheriff wake up, don't waste any more tax payers dollars here!
Just Sayin'....
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January 24, 2013
Thank goodness common sense is prevailing on commission. Of course, if the judges haven't gotten the memo yet, perhaps they need to be reminded they are elected as well, and this will be an issue in upcoming campaigns. They knew what the salaries were, they knew these were hard times, AND they knew they were leaving their private sector practices to become public servants. Of course, this means they get the healthcare and retirement that public service provides. With regards to the sheriff's office, I would suggest Coker wants the raise so her retirement will be a wee bit better. Let her find a private sector job somewhere that will pay her close to what she earns now. (If that existed, don't you think she would have taken it by now and started drawing retirement and the new salary?)
JR Wexfield
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January 24, 2013
It appears there are individuals who have common sense and know the difference when something is appropriate in our economic environment. Unfortunately Tim Lee is not one of them. When is he up for re-election?
S.A.
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January 24, 2013
Uh, you missed the boat on this one, guy. The election was last summer, but where were you then?
FROM TEXAS
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January 24, 2013
Money for this for that more taxes pay raises I guess the voters got what they asked for. It’s amazing how this Democrat Timmy Obama Lee can get elected here. That whole pay raise for the other employees was part of the long game for Timmy’s pay raise. Just wait till you have chickens and goats in your neighbors yards, it doesn’t matter your already upside down in your home value. But the way we need to recruit someone to replace Phil I’ll Take Your Gun Gingrey!!
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