FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Barely a week after voting to move forward with plans to increase its compensation, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners vetoed a proposal calling for a study comparing salaries of commissioners in neighboring counties.
At the July 11 work session, Commissioner Pete Amos suggested a study to see what other county commissioners make, but the motion failed 2-3, with Commission Chairman Todd Levent and commissioners Laura Semanson and Rick Swope against.
At their July 6 meeting, commissioners voted 3-2 to start the process to increase board members’ annual compensation to $49,500 for the chairman and $48,000 for the other four members. The resolution includes no additional compensation for extra meetings.
If approved, the salary increases won’t go into effect until January 1, 2019.
Currently, board members receive roughly a $38,000 base salary, with the chairman receiving a slightly higher salary due to added duties.
After hearing from the public regarding the raise, Levent said the state has the system set up for salary increases based on population.
“It’s out of our control,” Levent said July 6. “We’d love to be on the same schedule as most other elected officials. When there is a population increase, they automatically get a raise because it’s assumed their job and workload goes up. But we are some of the few who get stuck.”
Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills argued compensation should be based on a study of similar counties.
But, Semanson said this is the process the state Legislature provided the board.
She said she wished there had been more discussion on the increase prior to its approval July 6 because she had potential amendments.
There were two things the board reached consensus on, Semanson said, however the motion can’t be changed since it was voted on.
Her reservations included if the board was similar to other elected officials, they would get an increase based on populations, meaning their raise would be at $46,000 rather than $48,000.
The other item was that the board was not voting to give the current board a raise, although a few members will still be in their roles when the change goes into effect.
“However, with the adoption date of the new salary increase, there are a couple of us who will benefit from that, which was neither my intention, nor anybody else here,” Semanson said. “You will have to stand and face the music and get elected again.”
Semanson also wanted to add language to the update that the raise was applicable once a sitting commissioner has completed another election cycle, which county attorney Ken Jarrard said the law already requires.