Sheriff asks Bibb County residents to support pay raise for law enforcement
Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said he expects pay raises to be the biggest issue in the 2021 budget.
For the upcoming fiscal year, however, the new Macon-Bibb County budget approved Tuesday does not include a bump in employee salaries despite last-minute efforts to do so. Several officials said that they didn’t feel the public could stomach another property tax increase to cover about $2 million in pay raises.
The $164.5 million budget for fiscal 2020 does not include a millage rate tax hike. The millage rate was increased a total of 6 mills the previous two years.
Davis has been outspoken about how pay disparities are causing him to have trouble retaining employees. His office posted a Facebook video June 4 that shows Davis ripping up a letter he sent to the mayor and commissioners asking for a 4% employee raise. He said they ignored the letter and asked for the public’s help.
There were pay increases for the Sheriff’s Office and for firefighters and their supervisors in 2018.
There was a 1.5% cost of living adjustment in fiscal 2017 for all county employees.
“Obviously I’m disappointed, but I’m not very surprised given the situation that the county budget is in,” Davis said following Tuesday’s budget vote. “We have advocated the notion that we need raises for the deputies as well as all the county employees.
The sixth vote needed to pass the budget came when Commissioner Scotty Shepherd called into the meeting remotely. Commissioners Valerie Wynn and Joe Allen opposed the budget. Commissioners Larry Schlesinger, Al Tillman, Bert Bivins, Elaine Lucas and Virgil Watkins approved it.
Watkins’ amendment called for a 2% raise for all employees, while Jones wanted to use the extra money for only public safety employees. They proposed a half-mill increase to pay for the raises.
Schlesinger said another tax increase would lead to a “revolt” by residents. Mayor Robert Reichert also questioned the public’s appetite for a higher millage rate.
“Nobody wants more to have additional revenue to provide adequate and fair compensation to all of our employees, but trying to balance that against another tax increase, I think is the fly in the ointment,” he said.
The county government is expected to undergo a pay-scale study, which should lead to more competitive salaries, some officials said.
Allen and Tillman also said they’d like to explore if it’s feasible to give a bonus to employees at the end of 2019.
“Hopefully with this new money with the hotel-motel tax (1% increase), we can take less money out of our general fund,” Tillman said. “Let’s hope by December, right before Christmas, that we can give all our employees a bonus.”
Overall, there is about $9.2 million in the budget for the outside and partner agencies, compared to slightly under $9 million in the current year.
For the first time in five years, the county is expected to have a surplus at the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
The final vote on the millage rate, which is currently 20.652 mills, will be held in August.