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Coweta commissioners initiate look at pay increase

Outgoing Coweta County Commissioner Randolph Collins earlier this month surfaced the idea of increasing the pay for commissioners and tying it to a 10 percent of the salary earned by Superior Court judges. The caveat on his motion approved by a 3-2 vote was that, if subsequently approved the General Assembly, the measure would not take effect until 2015 after the terms of all serving commissioners had expired.

Collins, as a rationale for suggesting the increase, cited the significant expenditure of time needed to adequately represent the county on numerous issues and the reality that commissioners had not received an increase in pay since the 1990s.

Collins suggested that commissioners’ pay should equal 10 percent of the salary received by Superior Court judges. That is the same arrangement by which Fayette County commissioners are compensated.

Collins said he thought the measure, if approved by the board and then by local legislation in the General Assembly, would mean an increase in pay from approximately $12,500 to about $15,000 and should not be effective until 2015.

Chairman Paul Poole in his response to the idea said, “I think we need to set an example and work with the salaries we have, and maybe we can look at it in the future. We knew the salary when we took the job.”

Commissioner Rodney Brooks said he was split on the issue. On one side, said Brooks, you run for office and serve in the capacity for for which you were elected and, on the other, “You realize the amount of time it takes to do the job. And we all work. I think (the salary) is low for what this board does.”

In his comments, Commissioner Al Smith said he thought an increase in compensation would be fair in 2015. Then waxing metaphoric Smith said, “We should all plant shade trees under which we never sit.”

And prior to the vote to adopt a resolution on the salary increase, Commissioner Tim Lassetter said he would like to see more research before making a decision, adding that he did not want to vote to raise the salary for 2015 if county staff do not receive increases such as cost of living adjustments.

The motion passed on a 3—2 vote, with Collins, Smith and Brooks in favor and with Poole and Lassetter opposed.

Commenting Thursday on the matter, county administrator Theron Gay said the current salary of commissioners, which also includes past cost of living adjustments, totals approximately $14,000. If approved by local legislation, the difference in pay would raise the rate to approximately $15,000.

Gay said the issue will have to come back before the commission before it can be forwarded to the General Assembly.


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