You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

DeKalb commissioners seek a pay raise


DeKalb County commissioners want a big pay raise, saying their $41,000 salary is inadequate even as they’ve delayed approving pay increases for police officers and firefighters.

Five county commissioners signed a letter to state senators asking for their pay to jump to at least half of what Superior Court judges make. That would put their pay between $66,000 and $95,000, depending on whether judges’ local supplemental pay is included in the calculation.

Commissioners say they deserve a pay boost because they’re working long hours to manage a large county trying to fix frequent water billing mistakes, stabilize services and advocate for residents. Some of the commissioners work other jobs; some don’t.

“It is fairly obvious and clear that this is not a part-time job,” said Commissioner Jeff Rader, who wrote the letter. “I don’t think it’s in the public interest to have elected officials that are key to this process to be grasping for income.”

Several residents told commissioners at their weekly meeting Tuesday that they need to prioritize public safety before upping their paychecks.

“You guys already make more than a starting salary of a DeKalb County police officer, the starting salary of a DeKalb County firefighter and the starting salary of a DeKalb County 911 officer,” said Faye Coffield, a former Atlanta police sergeant, during the commission’s public comment period. “You need to stop playing around with this. Pay the police and fire and 911 (employees).”

State Sen. Emanuel Jones, the chairman of DeKalb’s Senate delegation, told Channel 2 Action News he was surprised by the commissioners’ request.

“There was no support whatsoever in our delegation,” said Jones, D-Decatur. “It certainly doesn’t sell up at the Legislature.”

But commissioners say they haven’t received a raise since 2006. They gave 4 percent across-the-board pay increases to county employees last year.

Police and firefighters are seeking an additional 20 percent raise that would cost about $30 million a year. Commissioners declined to give them an increase when passing the county’s annual budget last month, saying they need more time to evaluate base pay, shift differentials and hazard bonuses. Pay increases for public safety employees will be reconsidered when the commission votes on the county’s mid-year budget adjustments this summer.

Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson said DeKalb’s officials should be paid at a rate similar to other elected officials in comparable-sized governments. Figures from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs showed that, in 2015, salaries for elected officials ranged from a low of $23,809 in Clayton County to a high of $60,300 in the city of Atlanta.

“We put in full-time hours and we get part-time pay,” she said.

Commissioner Nancy Jester said she didn’t sign the letter to the Senate because DeKalb is struggling with strained budgets and underpaid public safety employees. The county’s other six commissioners support the pay increase, according to Rader’s letter. Commissioner Larry Johnson didn’t sign the letter because he was unavailable after his mother died.

“As long as we have a deficit in the budget, and we’re spending more than we’re taking in, while public safety employees haven’t had enough raises, I just think it’s bad policy,” Jester said. “The optics are certainly terrible.”

The commission’s presiding officer, Kathie Gannon, said she will continue pursuing the pay increase, but she wants to evaluate how much of a raise is appropriate in the coming months. She said she’d prefer to receive a raise sooner, but the discussion could stretch into 2018.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Give Back Connection for May 27
Give Back Connection for May 27

Ogeechee Riverkeeper seeks watershed monitors One of the most important roles for supporters of the Ogeechee Riverkeeper is to be extra eyes on the rivers and streams in the Ogeechee watershed. The organization is looking for people to go to that next level? The Ogeechee Riverkeeper is seeking volunteers throughout the watershed to get trained through...
Cops: 2 deadly overdoses within hour in same Gwinnett neighborhood
Cops: 2 deadly overdoses within hour in same Gwinnett neighborhood

Gwinnett County police are investigating two fatal drug overdoses that occurred within an hour of each other in the same Lawrenceville neighborhood. At 6:09 a.m. Friday, officers responded to a home on Turtle Creek Way. A  911 caller had reported an unresponsive young man. They found the man, who was later pronounced dead, in the home. ...
Atlanta man sentenced for killing man in fight over smoking in home
Atlanta man sentenced for killing man in fight over smoking in home

An Atlanta man charged with murder twice in two years has been found guilty of a lesser crime in the first case, Fulton County officials announced Friday. Dontavis Montgomery, 21, stabbed Nicholas Roberts in the back during a fistfight in January 2015, according to a news release from the district attorney’s office. He was found guilty...
Mom: Boy, 9, catches DeKalb substitute teacher watching porn in class
Mom: Boy, 9, catches DeKalb substitute teacher watching porn in class

A DeKalb County substitute teacher has been fired after a mother said her son caught the man watching pornography in class. The sub, who hasn’t been identified by officials, was at his desk in front of students at Montgomery Elementary when the boy walked up, the mother told Brookhaven police. She said her son told her the teacher wasn&rsquo...
Up to $10K offered in search for teens accused of setting off fireworks inside Publix
Up to $10K offered in search for teens accused of setting off fireworks inside Publix

Police are offering up to $10,000 in the search for two teenagers accused of setting off fireworks inside a Publix grocery store in southwest Atlanta, according to Channel 2 Action News. <div></div><br><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">PLEASE SHARE: Wanted for Arson...
More Stories