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Tax commissioner's supplement, unlike sheriff's, never approved by Augusta Commission

Nearly $26,000 raise was never authorized

Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 5:44 PM
Last updated Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 1:02 AM
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Though salary increases approved last week by the Augusta Commission for the county’s sheriff and solicitor-general drew outrage, one elected official has received nearly $26,000 in supplemental pay that skirted state guidelines and was never authorized by commissioners.

Steven Kendrick's raise in pay was never authorized by the commission.  KENDRICK BRINSON
KENDRICK BRINSON
Steven Kendrick's raise in pay was never authorized by the commission.

According to a document obtained by The Augusta Chron­icle through an open records request, Tax Com­missioner Steven Kendrick secured the $25,941 raise with a 2008 letter he wrote to former human resources manager Moses McCauley.

“Per our conversation,” it stated, the tax commissioner’s salary was to be 15 percent higher than that of his highest-paid employee, Deputy Tax Commissioner Jack McAdams.

McAdams earned $96,000, which with the 15 percent "premium" added, boosted Kendrick's pay from the base amount set by local legislation, $78,000, to $110,000.

City Administrator Fred Russell said the city made a mistake in allowing the unusual supplement and not seeking commission approval.
“We did it wrong,” he said, denying knowledge of the pay boost “until after the fact.”

Kendrick said he was told that was how to determine his salary when he sent the letter before taking office in January 2009.

“That’s what I was told was standard policy,” he said, citing conversations with Russell, several commissioners, McCauley and former city human resources director Rod Powell. “I have no idea other than what they told me at the time.”

Mike Blanchard, the city’s interim human resources director, said he was unaware of any policy that used an official’s highest-salaried employee to calculate a salary, but he was aware it had been done once.

“I don’t know if it has been the practice in the far reaches of the past, but it hasn’t been written down,” Blanchard said.

McCau­ley, now retired, didn’t recall such a policy either but said that if he’d received Kendrick’s letter, he would have forwarded it to Powell or Russell, who had authority over salary amounts McCauley said he did not have.

The Salary Guide for Geor­gia County Officials, an annual guide available in 2008, spells out how to calculate the salaries of sheriffs, tax commissioners and other county elected officials under state law. House Bill 837 set the base salary of the Richmond County tax commissioner in 2002 at $78,000.

Kendrick said his recent request for a 5 percent pay increase – required for re-elected officials under the state salary guidelines that weren’t used in 2008 – likely triggered the recent effort to fix his situation.

Before commissioners voted Feb. 11 on the supplements for Sheriff Richard Round­tree and Solicitor-General Kellie Kenner-McIntyre, they were asked to approve a $25,941.18 supplement for the tax commissioner, “consistent with the practice since Jan. 1, 2009.”

Despite not having commission approval for his supplement, Kendrick will not see his salary go down, Russell said.

“Once you give a salary, you can’t take it back,” he said.

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Austin Rhodes
2862
Points
Austin Rhodes 02/24/13 - 09:25 pm
24
0
Once you give a salary...

...you can't take it back? EVEN if it was given improperly or illegally?

Fred Russell should have been fired so many times he oughta be burping soot.

GnipGnop
12240
Points
GnipGnop 02/24/13 - 09:41 pm
16
0
You can't even get this inept commission

to agree on firing someone that should have been fired years ago!!

Brad Owens
4446
Points
Brad Owens 02/24/13 - 09:58 pm
20
0
Hmmmmm

I am not sure that the salary increase was given was it?

And for God's sake! $78,000.00!?!?!?!?!?!?!? That is highway ROBBERY for what a Tax Commissioner has to do for work. I mean what DOES he REALLY do?

He should have to pay back the money he was NOT owed and the missing $25,000.00 too.

I knew something was fishy about this.

triscuit
3086
Points
triscuit 02/24/13 - 10:04 pm
16
3
Deduct $25,000 first .

Deduct $25,000 first . Dollars to donuts the first white person up gets turned down for their raise.

dichotomy
33003
Points
dichotomy 02/24/13 - 11:39 pm
15
6
Does this trick work for

Does this trick work for white folks? Apparently black folks just get a "city" job and then write a letter telling them what they want to make. What a deal. And Fred "what me worry" Russell just passes out pay raises like candy. Him and Grady Smith have got a lot in common. They both have total disregard of the taxpayer's money and they both are apparently scared to death of black civil servants and commissioners.

Hey Kendrick, for THAT kind of money you should have the answer to our illegal property tax system in your back pocket. Or are we just paying you to leave the vault door open?

Riverman1
84078
Points
Riverman1 02/25/13 - 07:08 am
16
0
Strange Circumstances

The Tax Commissioner's Office has had strange circumstances with money, 25 grand at a time. 25 grand disappears and a 25 grand raise appears that no one admits authorizing. I don't understand why the raise can't be stopped and restitution made?

Riverman1
84078
Points
Riverman1 02/25/13 - 07:13 am
12
0
Think About This

If there is absolutely no paper work authorizing a raise, that raise does not legally exist. Even though money is going to Kendrick, there is no reason given why. The raise shouldn't be allowed and all the money should be returned. What if a lower level employee was mistakingly paid $25,000 a year more, would he have to return the money? That's like a bank mistake and you have to return such windfalls.

HenryWalker3rd
2393
Points
HenryWalker3rd 02/25/13 - 07:23 am
10
2
Commissioners doing back door
Unpublished

Commissioners doing back door deals.
Commissioners making $ off of the city.
RCBOE wasting money.

Augusta, Augusta....will things ever change?

Its not just the black people they get over on the city.... its just that most of the white underhandness goes "unnoticed". (Unreported)

proud2bamerican
441
Points
proud2bamerican 02/25/13 - 08:43 am
10
1
CLEAN house!

Who is going to have the character and determination to clean house around here?? We all see what is going on, know it is illegal, know it will continue but NOTHING gets changed?? What will it take and WHO will do something about it?? Can you imagine the improvements that could be made in this city if all of the illegally funded and illegitimately claim monies were spent correctly?!!

Little Lamb
46028
Points
Little Lamb 02/25/13 - 09:38 am
7
0
Salary

It is true that once you pay someone you cannot get that money back. But you sure as heck can reduce their salary to the state-mandated minimum going forward. I hope the county commission chooses to reduce Kendrick's salary to the minimum pronto.

dichotomy
33003
Points
dichotomy 02/25/13 - 09:27 am
8
0
HenryWalker3rd......"Its not

HenryWalker3rd......"Its not just the black people they get over on the city.... its just that most of the white underhandness goes "unnoticed"."

Point taken....I will have to give you a "maybe" on that one. We can only complain about what we know about and I'm sure there is a lot we don't know. I have long wished for a totally independent local news outlet with a couple of good investigative reporters dedicacted to following the money, watching real estate transactions, and putting scrutiny on local government issues and officials. Augusta ought to be like shooting ducks in a barrel for a good, independent, investigative reporter.

karradur
2854
Points
karradur 02/25/13 - 09:33 am
6
0
...

Apparently, the only prior experience required to work for the Augusta-Richmond County government is at least five hours total play time on SimCity.

Little Lamb
46028
Points
Little Lamb 02/25/13 - 09:43 am
6
0
What's bugging me

What's bugging me is this mania commissioners have in trying to boost the salaries of elected officials and department heads. What's the logic? People are crawling all over each other to run for office. There's no shortage. Likewise, people are stabbing each other in the back trying to become department heads.

What they should do is begin to lower salaries across the board for employees and officials. Start with five percent across the board salary cuts for all salaried personnel for 2013. Then impose a one percent pay cut per year starting in 2014. Whenever no one will take the job, they will know they have hit the appropriate salary.

batya
280
Points
batya 02/25/13 - 09:45 am
7
1
Hypocrites...

I find it so hypocritical that the liberal democrats that are running Augusta, and those in Washington DC for that matter, that win their offices by wanting to raise taxes to "help the underprivileged" raise their own already inflated salaries to help themselves instead....and the ignorant sheep continue to follow....

nocnoc
42681
Points
nocnoc 02/25/13 - 09:59 am
2
0
An a trickle becomes a flood

Here is what the Pay Increase resolution states.
trickle

RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING A LOCAL SUPPLEMENT TO THE
SALARY FOR THE ELECTED OFFICE OF AUGUSTA-RICHMOND
COUNTY TAX COMMISSIONER.

A RESOLUTION BY THE AUGUSTA, GEORGIA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS:

WHEREAS, the minimum salary of the Augusta-Richmond County Tax Commissioner upon entering office on January 1,2009 was $88,655.82 pursuant to the statutory calculation;

WHEREAS, pursuant to an Augusta, Georgia policy in effect at the time that a department director make fifteen (15%) percent more than the highest paid individual in the department, the Augusta-Richmond County Tax Commissioner was given a salary of $114,597;

WHEREAS, there was never official action by the governing authority designating the additional salary as a local supplement; and
WHEREAS, it is within the authority of the governing authority of Augusta, Georgia to approve a salary supplement in an amount determined by the governing authority.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the governing authority of Augusta, Georgia that the elected office of Augusta-Richmond County Tax Commissioner shall receive an annual local salary supplement in the amount of $25,941.18 consistent with the practice since January 1,
2009.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, this resolution has been duly adopted by the governing authority of Augusta, Georgia on the of February, 2013.

David S. Copenhaver
As its Mayor

CERTIFICATION
I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and correct copy of an original resolution duly adopted by the Augusta, Georgia Board of Commissioners on the day of February, 2013.

Lena J. Bonner, Clerk of Commission
Seal:

Little Lamb
46028
Points
Little Lamb 02/25/13 - 10:12 am
4
0
Russell

Here's a story from 2011 that helped to get the salary raise mania going:

Russell’s Raises

Can we find six votes to fire Fred Russell for dereliction of duty?

Davidl3940
115
Points
Davidl3940 02/25/13 - 10:20 am
8
0
A Circus

The city of Augusta is a circus. There is No fiscal resposibilty. If this was a business it would have folded many years ago. Cut all exempt pay. We have too many 6 figure salaries with low productivity!!!! We cannot pay more taxes guys.

nocnoc
42681
Points
nocnoc 02/25/13 - 10:25 am
5
0
Note & response

Despite not having commission approval for his supplement, Kendrick will not see his salary go down, Russell said.

    “Once you give a salary, you can’t take it back,” he said.

It is clearly stated it has NEVER been approved by the commission and therefore it can LEGALLY be rescinded at any time in the future.

A quit peek into the future.
The ARC phone system almost melts down as The lawyers almost kill each other calling The Tax Comish.

The Commissioner via a Fred Russell recommendation as usual, vote to settles out of court. Another lawyer makes some money and the Taxpayer's get screwed.

Fred dreams up a new way to increases taxes to off set the loss. A Sky Tax.

Maybe it is time to consider binding independent arbitration in all such cases. In short, eliminate or circumvent the all common process of lawyers feeding on the Taxpayer's General Fund.

Adam Bomb
357
Points
Adam Bomb 02/25/13 - 10:24 am
9
0
Why does this stuff keep happening??

I may be wrong but I don't remember ever seeing the former tax commissioner's name on a ballot. Jerry Saul. We were supposed to make our checks out to him. Now this guy. He has been on the ballot. Now the newest scandal. I rarely agree with any one but Austin's statement about Fred Russel is right on. I work overseas from time to time and an English Pub discussion mentioned the "failed city government in Augusta Georgia". Now isn't that something to be proud of? Most people can speak proudly of their city and it's government. Guess anyone from here needs to hide the fact that they're from Augusta Georgia.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 02/25/13 - 10:39 am
10
0
How hard would it have been

How hard would it have been to solve the missing money case? Why was it just swept under the rug?

This recent shenanigan is so disappointing. How can Augusta expect the employees to be honest, if they can't be?

And the deputies get the short end of the stick every year. No equipment, no raises.

I have no idea how their bosses sleep at night.
And people wonder why we have no respect for those in power.

allhans
23663
Points
allhans 02/25/13 - 11:02 am
6
0
Name a successful business

Name a successful business anyplace that would give raises with no authority...not even a signed piece of paper???

Winter Storm
7
Points
Winter Storm 02/25/13 - 11:55 am
3
2
Interesting

This story is about the alleged failures of, "[Fred]Russell, several commissioners, [Moses] McCauley and former city human resources director Rod Powell." But the persons' whose picture is in the paper is Steven Kendrick. At least the paper should make an effort to portray the reporting, and the subsequent perceptions more balanced. Or is there another intent?

alfrrst4
18
Points
alfrrst4 02/25/13 - 12:22 pm
5
0
Pay raises for the people who actually work!!!!!!!!!!

The people that work for the little money, deputies, firemen, water treament, etc; are overlooked by all of your comments. What about them? Deputies and firemen are risking there life for peanuts, and nobody is going to bat for them?

Little Lamb
46028
Points
Little Lamb 02/25/13 - 01:08 pm
3
0
Photo

Welcome to the forum, Winter Storm. Your point is well taken, but though Russell, McCauley, and Powell were all responsible for fumbling the paperwork and breaking the rules, it was Kendrick who started the whole fiasco by asking for a raise just because of the person working under him had a high salary. If Kendrick could have justified a raise because of his own stellar performance it would have been different. But to rationalize a raise for you just because of someone under you is a slap at taxpayers.

Davidl3940
115
Points
Davidl3940 02/25/13 - 03:08 pm
4
0
Little Lamb
46028
Points
Little Lamb 02/25/13 - 03:36 pm
3
0
Slick Trick

This "policy" of making sure that supervisors must make at least 15% more than their highest paid subordinate is a win-win for supervisors. All Steven Kendrick has to do next is recommend deputy tax commissioner McAdams to get a raise. As soon as commission rubber stamps his request, Kendrick automatically gets one. The sky’s the limit!

The electronic calculators and Excel spreadsheets are humming throughout Augusta city government today, as supervisors in every department are checking how much everyone who works for them makes. There will be dozens of automatic pay increase requests filed later this week.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 02/25/13 - 04:12 pm
2
1
You make an interesting point
Unpublished

You make an interesting point at 10:55, WinterStorm.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 02/25/13 - 04:39 pm
4
0
But LL makes some better

But LL makes some better points.

obkad
222
Points
obkad 02/25/13 - 04:53 pm
2
0
SALARY

Watch what you all are saying.. You are talking about your next Mayor!!!!! If you think this is bad now, just wait!!!!

peggyjean
8
Points
peggyjean 02/25/13 - 05:18 pm
3
0
What happened to job

What happened to job performance reviews before one gets a raise?
Especially a "public servant". The only people the government, local and beyond is serving is themselves. It's pretty ridiculous. What's it going to take , a revolt? HMMMM.

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