Columbia County Sheriff Whittle could get 'significant' pay hike

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Columbia County’s sheriff will become the county’s highest-paid elected official if commissioners approve a proposal up for review next week.

Sheriff Whittle
Sheriff Whittle


A change in the base salary for the office will give Sheriff Clay Whittle an increase of $16,530 per year, raising his total compensation to $135,760, said County Administrator Scott Johnson.

That will put Whittle’s pay $163 higher than the current highest-paid official, Tax Commissioner Kay Allen.

“It’s a relatively significant pay raise,” Johnson said, and comes because of an effort to clear up a discrepancy in how the base salaries for the county’s elected officials are computed. Johnson said he noticed the disparity when preparing annual letters the commission office sends to elected officials, letting them know how much they’ll make based on cost of living adjustments. He then initiated the proposal to increase Whittle’s base salary.

A change at the state level several years ago raised the base pay for most elected officials to just more than $74,000, but left the sheriff’s base rate at about $53,000, Johnson said. Elected officials receive additional pay based on longevity and cost-of-living adjustments.

“Clay’s starting at a $20,000 disadvantage,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t equitable.”

Because the sheriff wasn’t included in the state legislation that changed other local officials’ pay, the easiest way to clear it up is to rewrite the local ordinance setting his base salary, Johnson said. A proposal to do that is set to be discussed Tuesday during the meeting of the County Commission’s Management and Financial Services Committee.

“I want to debate this in public,” rather than in a closed commission session, Johnson said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Johnson insisted Whittle didn’t ask for the raise.

“I didn’t realize it,” Whittle said when asked about the disparity in base pay. “But I appreciate what they’re doing.”

He laughed as he recalled that, when elected in 1995, he took a $14,000 pay cut from his previous role as chief deputy.

When he asked why, he was told he had significant longevity and subsequent cost of living adjustments as a chief deputy – but that he was a rookie sheriff.

Before running for the office, Whittle said, “I never asked, ‘How much does sheriff pay?’ ”

The Management and Financial Services Committee meets at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Evans Government Center Auditorium.

Comments (9)

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TrulyWorried
9643
Points
TrulyWorried 02/08/13 - 08:31 pm
3
1

Headline on pay increase

Congratulations to the Sheriff. Roy Waters thinks the pay raise is reasonable!
The person that typed the headline should check his/her spelling. LOL does not do it all the time!!
Proofread!!!

Austin Rhodes
2674
Points
Austin Rhodes 02/08/13 - 08:31 pm
5
1

The very fact...

...that the Commission acknowledges that discussing this publicly is the right thing to do puts them (once again) head and shoulders above their counterparts in Augusta who chose to do the same thing hiding under a rock.

I hope to successfully lobby our legislators to CLARIFY the language in the Georgia Open Meetings Law that seems to give the green light (it is confusing) to discuss the pay of elected officials in a closed meeting.

As the President of the Clay Whittle Fan Club I have no problem with setting the salary higher, but only when the county employees of all ranks receive their next COL increase.

Little Lamb
40081
Points
Little Lamb 02/08/13 - 09:00 pm
6
2

Cost of living

Haven't you noticed that our all-knowing federal Office of Management and Budget has decreed that inflation is nearly zero percent? Hence, SS Recipients, Civil Service pensioners, and governmental employees at all levels (federal, state, local) must receive zero cost of living adjustments for the time being.

Riverman1
70341
Points
Riverman1 02/09/13 - 09:00 am
6
0

If we pay school

If we pay school superintendents the kind of money we do, I see no reason why sheriffs shouldn't be paid more than they are. But I do have a question about retirements. It is my general opinion that state and local government retirement compensations are both totally unrealistic. How much will the Sheriff and other local (and state) employees draw in retirement?

Willow Bailey
20240
Points
Willow Bailey 02/09/13 - 10:13 am
4
2

Yeah. He deserves this and

Yeah. He deserves this and more. Great sheriff, wonderful person.

CobaltGeorge
138487
Points
CobaltGeorge 02/09/13 - 09:58 am
1
3

I Second The Raise

He definitely deserves it.

rebellious
18593
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rebellious 02/09/13 - 12:57 pm
4
2

interesting

Several days ago we were discussing this on another forum in regards to another Sheriff it's interesting it comes up now on Columbia County

SemperParatus
3225
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SemperParatus 02/09/13 - 02:45 pm
7
0

If the sheriff gets a raise...

...so should his deputies!

Riverman1
70341
Points
Riverman1 02/09/13 - 05:40 pm
2
2

Rebel, some of the statements

Rebel, some of the statements made also indicate they were keeping up with what was going on in Richmond Cty. and the comments being made. Or could it have been the OTHER WAY?

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