Raises in store for Sullivan County officials

J. H. Osborne • May 27, 2008 at 12:00 AM


Thanks to a commission vote last year, Sullivan County commissioners are up for a 17-plus percent pay raise beginning July 1.

The pay hike, an estimated $86 or $87 per month for each of the commission’s 24 members, is linked to a state-mandated pay raise for county constitutional officeholders.

As a result, Sullivan County Mayor Steve Godsey and other constitutional officeholders will see bigger paychecks after July 1, when the county’s annual budget cycle begins anew.

According to information released by the County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS), Godsey, Sheriff Wayne Anderson, Highway Commissioner Allan Pope and other constitutional officeholders will be getting a nearly 4.9 percent raise.

Although the state mandates the raises, it does not provide any funding to implement them. That’s left up to the county, including another 22 percent or so for added benefits, said Sullivan County Accounts and Budgets Director Larry Bailey.

On Tuesday, Bailey said he had not yet calculated the total cost for Sullivan County’s upcoming fiscal year budget.

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.

In the past year, according to the information from CTAS, state employees received total average increases of 4.89 percent over the prior year.

Godsey’s salary this fiscal year is $95,792 — up from $91,572 last year and up from the $89,235 salary of Godsey’s predecessor during his last year in office.

To get to Godsey’s raise for the upcoming budget year you have to first calculate the new pay levels for Anderson and Pope.

How much the county mayor’s salary increases 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 $76,722 — up from $73,069 last fiscal year — and it’s set to increase to $80,474 based on the figures from CTAS.

Anderson’s salary this year is $92,230 — up from $87,211 last fiscal year. The minimum salary for county sheriff under state law for the upcoming fiscal year will be $88,522, according to the figures from 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 Pope. 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 Pope’s salaries are each projected at $95,360 for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

That will put Godsey’s salary at roughly $100,560 as of that date.

That’s where the raise for county commissioners comes in. Last year 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 this year, each commissioner will be paid 7 percent of the county mayor’s salary.

Godsey’s roughly $100,560 salary means each commissioner will be paid about $7,040 per year — or about $587 per month, an increase of about 17.32 percent.

Godsey’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 Godsey at roughly $100,560 for the coming year, Street’s minimum salary will be about $105,600.

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 $72,427 — up from $69,050 this year.

Current salary information was provided to the Times-News last week by the county’s payroll department. Figures cited as being from CTAS are available at www.ctas.tennessee.edu.

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