LAWRENCEVILLE, GA– The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners on March 2 unanimously approved a resolution asking the county’s delegation to the General Assembly to adjust the salary of the commission chair to match that of sheriffs of large jurisdictions.
The measure would change the chair’s salary from $74,266 to $136,011, the base salary of sheriffs of counties with more than 500,000 people. Cost-of-living adjustments in the chair’s salary would be equal to that of state and county employees. The County typically only offers employees pay-for-performance increases.
If approved by the General Assembly, the new salary would be effective on Jan. 1, 2022, unless the local delegation moves up the timeline. By law, the salary of the Board of Commissioners can be set by the General Assembly, which traditionally follows the lead of the local delegation.
The chair’s salary was last fixed in 2007.
The resolution said the adjustment would recognize the number of hours required by the position to provide studied and thoughtful responses to the issues facing the residents of the county. The chair is the only position on the board that is full time and routinely requires long hours into the evening and weekends.
The resolution observed that the salary correction would recognize the increased responsibility and workload of the chair resulting from the county’s increased population. The chair of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners oversees the largest provider of municipal services in Georgia with more than 5,000 employees and a budget of $1.9 billion. Gwinnett County has a population estimated at 980,000 and is expected to reach 1.5 million by 2040.
The chair represents Gwinnett County on several powerful agencies such as the Atlanta Regional Commission and Association County Commissioners of Georgia, and often serves as the voice of the county government with the state and federal governments, the media and the public.
The position also requires breadth and depth of the knowledge on policies, the law, and operations of a wide range of services, such as:
- Water and sewer
- Police and fire protection
- Transportation and transit
- Planning and zoning
- Parks and recreation
- Health and human services
- Computer systems
- Budgets and government finance
- Environmental issues
- Health care
- State and federal policies and legislation
- Other external issues that could affect county operations
The resolution states that fixing the salary of the chair of the Board of Commissioners equal to the sheriffs of large counties would bring the chair’s salary in line with the salaries of the chairs of similar counties and Gwinnett County’s constitutional officers.
A wage and salary survey by the state Department of Community Affairs showed that the Gwinnett chair’s salary trails that of even smaller counties, such as Paulding with a population of 168,667 people ($122,192 annually) and Clayton County, population of 292,256 ($167,021). By comparison, the Gwinnett Tax Commissioner earns $141,098.48 yearly and the Probate Court judge receives $146,417 annually.