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More Augusta officials seek raises

Judges, clerk of court make case to state legislators

Sunday, March 3, 2013 6:57 PM
Last updated Monday, March 4, 2013 1:52 AM
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How much are Augusta's elected officials worth? Taxpayers are about to find out, as four more extend a hand for a local supplement to their state-mandated minimum salaries.

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Probate Judge Harry James wants his pay raised 15 percent, citing his heavy workload.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Probate Judge Harry James wants his pay raised 15 percent, citing his heavy workload.

Joining Richmond County's sheriff, solicitor-general, tax commissioner and others in seeking higher pay are the presiding and chief judges of civil and magistrate court, the clerk of court and new Probate Judge Harry James.

A divided Augusta Commission recently approved raises requested by Sheriff Richard Roundtree and Solicitor-General Kellie Kenner-McIntyre and has paid Tax Commissioner Steven Kendrick's supplement for four years, despite never approving it. An elected official's pay can't be reduced while he or she is in office, according to City Administrator Fred Russell.

The elected officials now seeking supplements are going about it differently by asking Augusta legislators to increase their pay through legislation.

“I would surmise that our court probably is the busiest probate court in the state outside of Fulton,” said James, who is seeking a 15 percent increase, which would bring his salary to $125,932.

At a base salary of $109,506, James is already earning more than the state-required minimum of $85,000 for probate judges in counties with more than 200,000 people.

James said probate courts in counties with more than 96,000 people now have increased jurisdiction, including over criminal warrants and certain jury trials, that will increase the caseload.

By comparison, Columbia County Probate Judge Alice Padgett earns around $117,000, which includes a $4,852 supplement to handle traffic cases in the county of 128,112 residents.

Macon-Bibb County's probate judge earns around $130,000. Chatham County’s earns $148,000, the same amount as the judge in Henry County, a metro Atlanta county whose population of 207,000 is similar to Richmond County’s.

James, Chief Civil and Magistrate Judge William Jennings and Presiding Civil and Magistrate Judge Scott Allen are seeking raises from the Legislature with commission support. Clerk of Court Elaine Johnson said she referred a general request for an increase directly to the Legislature.

Allen, who earns $116,702 and Jennings, who earns $118,206, cite the higher salaries of Richmond County State Court judges, who all earn more than $140,000, and Augusta Circuit Superior Court judges, who each are paid more than $187,252 each.

By comparison, civil and magistrate judges earn $163,322 in Chatham; $132,800 in Bibb and $133,700 in Henry County.

The commission has taken no action on increasing local supplements since approving raises for Roundtree and Kenner-McIntyre, but Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson said members of the legislative delegation will act on the salary requests if they receive commission support for them this week.

RICHMOND AND COLUMBIA COUNTY SALARIES

Richmond County sheriff $126,500

Columbia County sheriff $135,760

Richmond County solicitor-general $106,700

Richmond County clerk of court $117,137

Columbia County clerk of court $118,351

Richmond County probate judge $109,506

Columbia County probate judge $117,000

Richmond County Civil & Magistrate Court chief judge $118,206

Richmond County Civil & Magistrate Court presiding judge $116,702

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Just My Opinion
4712
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Just My Opinion 03/03/13 - 08:30 pm
9
0

Yeah, man! Why not? Anybody

Yeah, man! Why not? Anybody else want some more free money? No "regular" employees need apply..just the bosses...you know who I mean. C'mon, now's the time to get it, while the commissioners have their backs against the wall and their hands in the taxpayer's pockets! Good luck!

itsanotherday1
34957
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itsanotherday1 03/03/13 - 09:26 pm
9
0

I want to know who has

I want to know who has decreed that the higher salaries of some juristictions are the standard? If Fulton Co decided to pay someone $1M; do the other counties then need to fall in line?

GnipGnop
10973
Points
GnipGnop 03/03/13 - 09:29 pm
10
0

Stupid decisions...

By a inept commission...what did they think would happen? Keep on voting for the Marion Williams and his ilk so Augusta can get finished off!

mosovich
712
Points
mosovich 03/04/13 - 12:05 am
10
0

So glad..

I don't live in Augusta anymore. You people are getting robbed blind...

I'm Back Again
307
Points
I'm Back Again 03/04/13 - 12:15 am
0
0

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

Unpublished

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

dichotomy
26881
Points
dichotomy 03/04/13 - 12:54 am
9
2

Way to go black

Way to go black commissioners. Your "give the black sheriff a 15% raise" is going to cost us $500,000 or more before it's over. And they ARE ALL overpaid already. Judge James is already making $25K more than the minimum and now he wants another $15K. Frankly, I'm not seeing ANY service from ANYBODY associated with Augusta/RC government that warrants a 15% pay raise......especially the elected officials. I don't think any of you are worth what you are getting already.

GnipGnop
10973
Points
GnipGnop 03/04/13 - 02:11 am
6
0

Dichotomy...

that includes cell phones and gas cards!!!

wildman
954
Points
wildman 03/04/13 - 05:34 am
6
1

Thanks

You can't make this stuff up, what will happen to Richmond County when the taxpayers all move to Columbia County or South Carolina? Yes, it's always great to get a pay raise but the money has to come from somewhere. I am not sure the folks in Richmond County understand that. Reminds you of the Federal government. Ouch!

soitgoes
654
Points
soitgoes 03/04/13 - 08:35 am
5
0

unabashed greed

unbelievable. If you are still one of the contributors paying taxes, get ready to dig deeper and pay more for less service.

JRC2024
6983
Points
JRC2024 03/04/13 - 08:49 am
6
0

You know who will pay, the

You know who will pay, the homeowners. Certainly not those living in the 30901 area.

prov227
2337
Points
prov227 03/04/13 - 09:27 am
6
1

Just feeding at the public trough ...

... until the producers/taxpayers in society are drained. Maybe the public administrators in Savannah, Macon, etc. are overpaid. Really tough to have to make it on only $100,000 per year. Detroit-on-the-Savannah in the making. The commissioners will be the cheerleaders.

I'm Back Again
307
Points
I'm Back Again 03/04/13 - 09:44 am
0
0

If you do it for 1, you will

Unpublished

If you do it for 1, you will have to do it for all-or get sued! I see the beginning of a HUGE domino effect in Richmond County. Taxpayers, you're taxes are going up and up and up. And you're getting less and less and less. But hey, you've got the TEE Center with a parking deck that you paid for, but receive no profits from. I'm laughing all the way from my Columbia County home :-))))))))))))

Little Lamb
40309
Points
Little Lamb 03/04/13 - 10:32 am
6
0

Laughing

Fred (What, me worry?) Russell is grinning at this new development. Do you remember 2011 when the commission approved a new "policy manual" (written by Russell's underlings including attorney MacKenzie) that gave the city administrator authority to hand out raises to city employees? Well, Russell promptly gave raises to some employees, and that set off a jealousy campaign in the ranks. Now these elected officials (whom Russell cannot set salaries) want their slice of the pie, also.

There is no end to what people desire. We need elected officials (and city administrators) who can say, “No!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Edit: By the way, that policy manual contains generous severance provisions for the city administrator and the city attorney. How about that?

Adam Bomb
324
Points
Adam Bomb 03/04/13 - 10:21 am
4
2

Judges need more pay? For what?

Almost everybody knows that Lawyers are usually crooked. That's how they make their living. They lie, hide stuff and generally disobey every rule. Then one day somebody makes them a judge. Suddenly they're straight as an arrow and expect everybody to toe the line. Now, if they were crooked as Lawyers, how do they magically change overnight? Crooked Lawyer = Crooked Judge. Not saying that any of those asking for a raise are in any way crooked but somebody should do a thorough background check and if a history of crookedness is found, they should be fired. We pay too many bad people too much good money. Who can't live comfortably on a hundred grand or better a year?

Riverman1
70968
Points
Riverman1 03/04/13 - 10:24 am
9
1

If we only had a mayor to

If we only had a mayor to provide leadership. We instead have a caricature of a mayor.

Little Lamb
40309
Points
Little Lamb 03/04/13 - 10:26 am
4
0

Russell's Raises

Here's a story from summer, 2011, when Alvin Mason and Bill Lockett were trying (and failing) to fire Fred Russell. It's good reporting, and there are several good comments:

Russell's Raises

Sweet son
8301
Points
Sweet son 03/04/13 - 12:16 pm
3
0

Just too Ridiculous

to comment on! Nuff said!

Sweet son
8301
Points
Sweet son 03/04/13 - 12:17 pm
3
0

Look at that smirk on James' Face!

He is loving this all the way to the bank.

ColCo
482
Points
ColCo 03/04/13 - 12:43 pm
4
1

Who is missing from this parade?

Ashley Wright hasn't asked for a raise, I'll bet she doesn't.

Sweet son
8301
Points
Sweet son 03/04/13 - 01:00 pm
3
0

@ColCo

Ashley Wright is a class act! I saw her at the Bobby Jones Walmart back at Christmas ringing the Salvation Army bell at the kettle. If she is due a raise then she should be at the top of the list to get one!

The Bean
80
Points
The Bean 03/04/13 - 04:44 pm
4
0

Ashley Wright

IS a class act. Given her experience and tenure, she is one who is justified in requesting a raise. We are lucky to have a lady of her character in office.

countyman
16915
Points
countyman 03/04/13 - 01:12 pm
2
7

Usual double standard

The article clearly says their going through the legislation, and not the commission.

Anybody notice how the salaries of the sheriff, probate judge, and clerk are higher in Columbia County.

How is Augusta being robbed blind when the salaries are lower compared to other counties in the state?

What sense does it make for a taxpayer of Richmond County to move because of the salaries, and Columbia County's are even higher?

Why do some citizens who live outside of Richmond want the population to be mad, but don't care about themselves paying more than we do for the same services?

Truth Matters
5311
Points
Truth Matters 03/04/13 - 02:06 pm
2
2

Pay increases

@Countyman
Great point of minding those who now complain about Fred Russell that Lockett and Mason attempted to hold him accountable for those raises, and people called the two commissioners agitators. Some people want to have it both ways. Either you expect the commissioners to be consistent or not, but do not complain when you don't get your way.

People who complain about Lockett do not know him. He is a straight shooter without regard to race or party.

HenryWalker3rd
2393
Points
HenryWalker3rd 03/04/13 - 03:26 pm
1
2

A straight shooter

Unpublished

I agree.

rebellious
18817
Points
rebellious 03/04/13 - 04:36 pm
4
0

Tipping Point

The scales are tipped in the direction of the government employee now. Look for an across the board raise for County employees next. Then (already asked for) additional holidays, shorter work day/week, limited service responsibilities, etc... The days of getting fleeced have turned into downright strongarm robbery.

Learn to accept it because this is "The New Normal". At least until the goose wholays the golden eggs is dead.

dichotomy
26881
Points
dichotomy 03/04/13 - 04:46 pm
4
1

"How is Augusta being robbed

"How is Augusta being robbed blind when the salaries are lower compared to other counties in the state?"

Maybe because those other counties get COMPETENT people and we get...well.......what we've got.

dstewartsr
20388
Points
dstewartsr 03/04/13 - 04:53 pm
5
1

Countyman

... Aren't you always the one who whines the loudest when the two counties are compared? Columbia County has an actual property tax base and taxpayers; its population is not fleeing to be replaced by a high birthrate which keeps the population almost stable, but non-contributing to the city's balance sheet.

That being said, our clown commission is more expensive and no better than yours in efficiency or honesty; just better keeping it off the front pages.

countyman
16915
Points
countyman 03/04/13 - 07:16 pm
1
3

I'm not really comparing

I'm not really comparing them, but only mentioning the salaries.

Richmond County has a actual property tax base and tax payers; it's population is not fleeing to be replaced by a high birthrate which keeps the population almost stable, but non-contributing to the city's balance sheet.

Why do you think Starbucks is building a $172 million plant here?

The site plan of the Village at Riverwatch doesn't indicate a county where people are fleeing.

I always laugh at the comments, because Apple/Costco/PF Changs/Sephora/etc don't have locations outside of metro Atlanta except for in Augusta.

The Costco in North Georgia doesn't county, because they only located there because of Sunday alcohol sales in Tennessee(Chattanooga suburbs).

nocnoc
31231
Points
nocnoc 03/04/13 - 07:59 pm
2
1

Comparing Apples to Oranges for Salaries

You cannot compare Richmond Co. to Columbia Co. their budgets, taxes, revenue base and tax digest are all different.

Richmond Co. has a shrinking population and shrinking Tax Digest. A FACT bore out by the 2010 US Census & the 2011 updates. Richmond Co. unlike Columbia Co. has a tax base is already stretched thin, ours is NOT GROWING. We have seen the rates increase and/or the services reduce to cover increased downtown spending.

A fact proven by the constant barrage of tax increase requests and surcharges attempts (Rain Tax), alternative suggestions, T-center, The Patch and more. All focused for improving downtown.

Remember what started as a trickle, has as predicted, become a flood.

Someone remind what we were promised, would happen if we Consolidated?

dstewartsr
20388
Points
dstewartsr 03/04/13 - 10:56 pm
0
0

"... Anybody notice

...how the salaries of the sheriff, probate judge, and clerk are higher in Columbia County"?

Of course that's not a comparison. Nah.

*giggle*

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