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.

Salaries of of local law enforcement is a local, not state, decision


It has often been said that the government which is the closest to the people governs best, but the ability to make decisions at the local level seems to be continually undermined by mandates, usually unfunded, from the state and federal governments. A recent example is Senate Bill 254, introduced last week in the Georgia General Assembly. It proposes to establish a statewide minimum salary for sheriff’s deputies at the starting pay of a Georgia State Patrol officer.

Deputies are employees of the sheriff. They are paid 100 percent from local county taxes and fees. The sheriff, who is accountable to county voters working in concert with county commissioners - also held to account by voters - should determine the appropriate compensation for these officers. The state legislature, which does not have any financial obligation for these employees, should not intervene in this relationship.

Many people agree that law enforcement officers are not paid enough for putting their life on the line to protect their community. It is even debatable if there is any amount of money worth the risk. But it is local elected officials, representing their constituents, who should decide on an appropriate balance between the level of service desired and the amount of taxes the community is willing to pay. In the private sector, the free market dictates what a business will have to pay to get a qualified employee. Why would we not expect the free market to determine what a local government needs to pay to get a qualified employee?

The economy in each community is different and an equally qualified person may be willing to work for a different salary depending upon where the job is located. Fulton County, Georgia’s most populous county with an estimated 1,010,000 residents, is far different than the state’s least populous Taliaferro County with a population of just 1,700. Yet, the state would impose the same minimum salary in each county.

The issue comes down to basic supply and demand, which cannot work if a state-imposed mandate supersedes basic economic factors. If there are not enough qualified job applicants for an open position, or if they refuse to work for the salary offered, then the compensation must increase in order to fill the position. Equally important, if sheriffs cannot retain the best and brightest employees, then they need to re-evaluate the way they compensate for performance.

Other than constitutionally elected positions, current state law does not mandate minimum salaries for local employees. To change this for local law enforcement would be unprecedented and undermine one of the key foundations of local control. If the legislature believes a public service should be provided and paid for uniformly across the entire state, then shouldn’t the state take over the service rather than dictate service standards to the local governments?

Clint Mueller is the legislative director for ACCG, Georgia’s county association, www.accg.org.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Krauthammer: What the parents of Charlie Gard should do for their baby
Krauthammer: What the parents of Charlie Gard should do for their baby

One cannot imagine a more wrenching moral dilemma than the case of little Charlie Gard. He is a beautiful 11-month-old boy with an incurable genetic disease. It depletes his cells’ energy-producing structures — the mitochondria — thereby progressively ravaging his organs. He cannot hear, he cannot see, he can barely open his eyes...
Opinion: Mainstream media and the real crimes of Russiagate

For a year, the big question of Russiagate has boiled down to this: Did Donald Trump’s campaign collude with the Russians in hacking the DNC? And until last week, the answer was “no.” As ex-CIA director Mike Morell said in March, “On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians … there is smoke, but...
Readers Write: July 21

Krauthammer column full of hot air Columnist Charles Krauthammer believes a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and other members of the Trump campaign and a couple of Russian officials was “collusion” (“Bungled collusion by Trump Jr. is still collusion,” Opinion, July 15). Collusion is the “secret agreement or cooperation...
Opinion: Trump talks like a man who feels the heat
Opinion: Trump talks like a man who feels the heat

(AP) “President Donald Trump impressed senators Wednesday with a cogent, engaged pitch on health care that didn’t veer wildly from the script.” That’s the opening sentence in a Politico story this morning, because apparently it’s news when our president manages to act cogent and engaged on an...
Forces reshaping civilization are worth pondering

We may regret the decline of bookstores and blame Amazon for it. However,I observe many at the beach forgoing books and intermittently perusing newspapers and magazines for something stimulating to daydream. For those with lazy vacation eyes, let me offer my short-form five forces that will reshape our civilization by 2030. Reworking democracy In the...
More Stories