At their midmonth meeting on Dec. 21 Liberty County Commissioners will consider raising commissioners’ pay, a measure that would go into effect in January 2019 and would increase costs by $87,600 for the first 12 months.
Each commissioner’s base pay is now $150 monthly. Thatamount would increase to $600 each month if the measure passes. Commissioners also receive a monthly stipend of $700 and that would increase to $1,200. The stipend is theoretically to cover expenses, but it is treated as taxable income and there are no restrictions on how stipends are used.
The commission chairman is elected at-large countywide and is paid more that other commissioners. The chairman’s base pay and stipend are now $200 and $1,000. With the 2019 raise, those figures would go to $1,000 in salary and $1,800.
Pay raises for elected officials do not go into effect until after the next general election after the raise is approved.
A general election will be held next year for the seats now held by Commissioners Connie Thrift, Justin Frasier and Marion Stevens. They or their successors will receive the increased pay in January 2019 along with the four others who are not up for re-election in 2018.
Another source of income, not affected by this month’s proposed action, is a $100 monthly payment for commissioners who complete 66 hours of coursework and earn the Association County Commissioners of Georgia designation as a certified county commissioner.
Six commissioners are certified and receive the $100 monthly: Eddie Walden, Gary Gilliard, Donald Lovette, Connie Thrift, Justin Frasier and Marion Stevens.
County commissioners in Georgia also receive cost of living increases based on a state formula. These raises are usually 2 or 2.5 percent and are not made every year.
The state Department of Community Affairs does an annual wage and salary survey of local government personnel in Georgia and posts the results on its website: http://www.dca.state.ga.us/dcawss/reports.asp.
DCA Wage & Salary Survey | Reports
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Counties are grouped by population for comparison, although some counties do not participate in the survey, responses may not be up-to-date and some data may not be “apples-to-apples.”
Liberty is in population group B with similar-sized counties. According to DCA, Liberty County’s commission chairman is the second lowest paid of the group, getting $4,745 annually. Barrow County is lowest at $ 2,744 and Jackson County’s chairman is highest paid in the group at 21,351 annually.
DCA lists the pay of Liberty County commissioners at $3,954 annually, the lowest in the group. Camden County, with a smaller population, pays its commissioners $12,505 annually. Effingham County commissioners get $25,100 yearly; its population is also smaller than Liberty’s.
The counties grouped with Liberty by population are Barrow, Camden, Catoosa, Dougherty, Effingham, Floyd, Glynn, Gordon, Jackson, Rockdale, Spaulding and Walton.
Liberty County commissioners have not had an increase in their base pay for so many years that no official queried could remember the last occasion.