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Commission further delays study on board compensation

Officials want to wait for fifth seat to be filled

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — After going back and forth for months on whether to perform a study on how much they should be paid, the Forsyth County Commission says it wants to wait until it has a complete set of members to move forward.

The commission deadlocked 2-2 Sept. 26 on whether to approve the study, thus stalling any action. But the issue is expected to be revived at a Nov. 28 work session when a fifth board member will be seated.

Commissioners Cindy Jones Mills and Pete Amos voted against moving forward with the study in August, but the issue dates back to June when the board requested information that would compare commissioners’ salaries from neighboring counties. Just weeks after voting to move forward with a salary increase, commissioners denied a proposal for a study.

In August, the board voted down a 25 percent pay raise that had been approved in July.

Then at a Sept. 7 meeting, commissioners revisited the topic, and voted to proceed with the study.

At a Sept. 26 meeting, Deputy County Manager Tim Merritt presented two options to the board for the study from The Mercer Group and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

The Carl Vinson Institute study would cover data from June 2018 until December 2018 and would cost about $27,000. Merritt said The Mercer Group understood the issues and was the option the two board members in favor picked. It would take about three months and cost $19,680.

Merritt said county staff could do the study in-house, but wanted to use an outside source to be ensure impartiality.

Amos said he wanted to wait on any action until the commission included all five members because any decisions would affect the new member as well.

Commissioner Laura Semanson said board member compensation will continue to be an issue and it doesn’t matter when the study begins.

“Everyone is operating under the assumption it may be an increase, but it may not,” Semanson said. “Until we answer that question, it’s going to continue to be kicked around. We need to go ahead and get the study done. Then we can move forward with that information and decide if we’re right where we need to be or maybe we are paid too much or too little.”

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the study has to be done before election qualifying in 2018. If approved, the raise wouldn’t go into effect until January 1, 2019.


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