Hall County commissioners will vote next week on a salary increase for themselves that could hike each one’s compensation by more than $10,000 per year.
The current salaries for each commissioner range from $6,887 to $9,260 depending on whether or not they have completed Association County Commissioners of Georgia certifications and how long each has been on the commission. There is a maximum increase for longevity based on when the commissioners began their terms, Hall County spokeswoman Katie Crumley wrote.
But commissioners can also use a $173 per diem up to 12 times per month for meetings related to their capacity as commissioners, which can include regular Board of Commissioners meetings, budget meetings or visits to see property sites with constituents.
The highest annual compensation a commissioner can currently earn is about $34,000.
The new proposal would not include the current per diem structure but instead use a higher flat salary plus other benefits including health insurance and a phone stipend.
The new proposed salaries would be $45,000 a year for each district commissioner and $50,000 for the chairman of the board. The proposal also includes future cost of living adjustments and other merit-based increases. The county estimates the proposal would cost about $65,842 more annually.
The new salary structure, if approved, would begin on Jan. 1, 2023.
The last time the commission’s salary was adjusted was 2007. Chairman Richard Higgins said they needed to keep up with cost of living, and the increase would be in line with commissioners in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties. The raise is fair when considering the amount the county has grown and continues to grow, Higgins said.
“You do spend a tremendous amount of time involved in it to do a good job,” he said.
Commissioner Kathy Cooper said she supported the raise as well and had heard from at least one constituent who agreed.
District 3 Commissioner Shelly Echols opposes the raise, calling the size of the increase “ridiculous.”
“Public service is just that, it’s public service,” Echols said. “It’s a part-time job. It’s not a full-time job so I think that we’re pretty fairly compensated when you look at our full benefits package of everything we get. I think everything we receive is fair.”
Echols said she would favor changing the current per diem structure and raising the base salary to compensate, but this increase would be too much.
The Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing and vote on the proposal at their meeting at 6 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Gainesville Civic Center.
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the meeting location. The meeting will be held at the Gainesville Civic Center.