The raise for elected officials is thanks to a state-mandated pay increase for county constitutional officeholders. Sullivan County commissioners linked their own pay to that increase mechanism years ago. That vote set each of the 24 county commissioners’ pay at 7 percent of that of the county mayor.
County mayor is among the offices for which the state sets salaries — but does not fund. That’s left up to the county’s taxpayers — as well as funding for the corresponding increase in benefits.
According to information distributed online by the taxpayer-funded County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS), constitutional officeholders will be getting a 4.66 percent raise. Last year they got 5 percent.
Tennessee law dictates a minimum level of pay for various officeholders, based on county population. It also links the pay to the average annualized general increase in state employees’ salaries. State law provides for an automatic increase in the minimum salary each year based on the percentage increase given to state employees for the previous fiscal year —but the raise for county officials isn’t allowed to exceed 5 percent, even if the raise to state employees did.
In the past year, according to the information from CTAS, state employees received total average increases of 4.66 percent over the prior year.
To get to County Mayor Richard Venable’s payscale after the raise for the upcoming budget year, you first have to calculate the new pay levels for Sheriff Wayne Anderson and Highway Commissioner Jim Belgeri.
How much the county mayor’s salary rises depends on how much salaries for those officeholders increase. State law dictates that county mayors’ salaries be at least 5 percent higher than the salary for any other county constitutional officer.
State law also dictates that the sheriff’s salary and the highway commissioner’s salary be at least 10 percent more than that of “general officeholders,” which share the same pay level and include: assessor of property, trustee, circuit court clerk, chancery court clerk, clerk and master, county clerk and register of deeds.
For the current fiscal year, the salary for those offices is $94,719, and it’s set to increase to $99,133 on July 1, according to CTAS.
The new minimum salary for county sheriff and highway commissioner under state law will be $109,046, according to CTAS.
But Anderson’s pay exceeds the minimum because Sullivan County’s sheriff receives additional compensation — $6,835 — for operating multiple facilities, a practice that is permitted by state law.
The same situation and same figures apply to the salary for Belgeri. That office, too, is provided additional compensation — $6,835 — because of what’s described as additional duties and responsibilities.
Including the supplement, Anderson’s and Belgeri’s salaries can be projected at $115,881 beginning July 1.
That will put Venable's salary at roughly $121,675 as of that date, up from about $116,577 now.
That’s where the raise for county commissioners comes in. In 2007, the Sullivan County Commission approved raising commissioners’ salaries from $250 per month to $500 per month, with future raises linked to the county mayor’s salary. That vote said beginning July 1, 2008, each commissioner would be paid 7 percent of the county mayor’s salary.
Venable’s roughly $121,675 salary projection means each commissioner will be paid about $8,517.25 per year (up from $8,106) — or about $709.77 per month (up from about $680).
Venable’s boost also, in turn, ups the pay of County Attorney Dan Street, whose salary — per resolution of the county commission — is set at 5 percent above that of the county mayor.
With Venable at roughly $121,675 for the coming year, Street's minimum salary will be about $127,759 (up from $122,406).
The salary for administrator of elections is, by state law, set at 90 percent of the salary of the property assessor.
For the upcoming fiscal year, the minimum will equal $89,220 (up from $85,247).
Figures cited as being from CTAS are available at www.ctas.tennessee.edu.