Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson, who will preside over today’s meeting in Mayor Deke Copenhaver’s absence, said he supports the city’s paying the supplements requested by Sheriff Richard Roundtree and State Court Solicitor Kellie Kenner-McIntyre because of their education levels and certifications, just as commissioners are awarded small pay increases when they complete elected officials’ training.
“We talk all the time about how we can’t retain the best and the brightest if we’re not going to pay them,” Johnson said. “You want the best, you’ve got to pay for it.”
Roundtree requested a salary of $126,500, above the $110,000 minimum for the sheriff, based on his master’s degree, advanced law enforcement training and experience, according to a letter he sent City Administrator Fred Russell in early January.
Kenner-McIntyre, a lawyer who previously worked as a victim’s advocate and social worker in Fulton County, Ga., requested a 10 percent increase to her salary of $97,000, an amount which, like the sheriff’s, was set by local legislation in 2006.
Russell said neither of the requests had been withdrawn Monday, and Commissioner Marion Williams, who returned them to today’s agenda, said the time for each official to request a supplement is now.
“You can’t negotiate until after you get the position,” Williams said.
Individual votes to award the supplements failed last week, 5-4, along racial lines. Commissioner Grady Smith, who was out last week, said he’ll be back today.
Until now, only the new sheriff and solicitor had asked for extra pay. Clerk of Superior Court Elaine Johnson, however, confirmed Monday that she has requested legislators to examine the salary she is paid under the same 2006 law that set the sheriff’s and solicitor’s pay.
The legislative delegation could raise the sheriff’s and solicitor’s pay in a local bill that addresses the clerk’s salary, but it hasn’t made city officials aware of any intention to do so.
Roundtree’s requested increase would place him in line with retired Sheriff Ronnie Strength, who earned $126,075. As required by state law, Strength’s salary was boosted 5 percent each time he was re-elected.
The supplements would come from the city’s cash-strapped general fund, which already requires a $4 million dip into reserves for the year.
Another item on the agenda is the creation of an additional paid holiday Nov. 11 for Veterans Day, according to Commissioner Bill Lockett, who is pushing for the change.
“For Augusta to be such a military town, it’s ridiculous for us to not celebrate Veterans Day,” he said. “It’s not only for veterans and deceased veterans, it’s for the public, also.”
An agenda item likely to create waves concerns the direction the city should take with Augusta Municipal Golf Course. The commission will reconsider whether to seek a lease or management agreement with two previous bidders who sought to run the course, but Johnson said he hopes the city will instead oversee the management itself and hire a golf pro to operate the course.