Fulton County’s lowest-paid workers to get higher ‘living wage’


Fulton County’s lowest-paid workers will get a raise, with the Wednesday passage of a so-called living wage for county employees.

The minimum salary of $31,000 annually will be implemented over a five-year period. Now, the county’s base pay rate is $23,500 annually. About 10 percent of county employees make less than $31,000 a year.

Commissioners approved the measure 5-2. Commissioner Bob Ellis said he thought the move was part of a good long-range vision.

“I’m excited about doing it,” said Commissioner Marvin Arrington, who said he would also like to see county vendors raise base salaries for their employees.

Commissioner Emma Darnell said she was “very pleased to see the county moving in the direction of progressive governments all over this nation.”

“It’s possible to have a decent, civilized society and operate efficiently,” she said. “Insensitivity to fairness costs you more in the long run.”

Other commissioners, though, were concerned about the cost of the raises — about $16 million over the period of the implementation — and the message it might send. Vice Chairman Liz Hausmann said she thought raising base salaries wasn’t “equitable” for those who would see others’ salaries rise, but not their own.

Commissioner Lee Morris said for those without government jobs who make less than $31,000, seeing more of their pay checks go to higher taxes to pay for others’ salaries “further erodes trust in government.”

“I will vote no on this,” he said.

The measure will increase the salaries of more than 500 county employees, from custodial workers to clerks. It will be phased in slowly so that employees who get government assistance will be able to find ways to manage the potential loss of those benefits.

The raises will also mean increases for some people who supervise those employees. Overall, it will improve morale among employees, Fulton personnel director Kenneth Hermon said.

Earlier this month, Atlanta agreed to study raising salaries to $15 an hour over a three-year period beginning in 2018. Clarkston has a $15 minimum wage for city employees. The Fulton proposal would increase salaries to $14.90 an hour by 2021.


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