By Bill Frazer
In our usual permanent breaks from work and sitting around with friends discussing the latest topics of interest, the salaries for county elected officials arose in the discussion. It is of particular interest since there is a number of candidates vying for the county offices. As one friend stated, it would of interest to find out the salaries for these positions. Being that I was rather naïve, I said that I would make an effort to find out the remuneration for these services. Another friend said leave it alone as you going to make some of the powers-at-be mad.
My first act was to call Judge Calvin Milford to inquire as to the steps to take to garner this information. He informed me that he thought that this information would be on line. He was only partially correct as Governor Bently initated the Sunshine Mandate requiring that state official salaries be placed on line for the public to have access. However, there is zilch reference salaries for any of the Chambers County officials.
With no on line information, the only alternative to inquire this information was to go to the source which in this case was County Manager John P. Dendy. Not only did Mr.Dendy readily make available the information that I requested, but was very courteous and cooperative. Probably the best service for the money in Chambers county is Mr. Dendy. He works part time but does the work that a full time employee would do. The county has the advantage of years of his experience for the salary of $23,000. I know that the same job in Harris county, Georgia, the County Manager is paid $71,000 annually plus benefits.
Based on interviews with some of the officials, who were more than cooperative and pleasant to talk to, here are the annual salaries:
•Probate Judge Cary Baldwin $ 80,025
•Revenue Commissioner Wendy Williams 60,375
•Sheriff Sid Lockhart 65,000
•Circuit Clerk Charles Story 64,000
•District Judge Calvin Milford 125,000*
•Circuit Judge Steve Perryman 125,000*
•Chairman County Commission Wayne White 21,762
•County Commissioner Henry Osborne 17,082
•County Commissioner David Eastridge 17,082
•County Commissioner Rosa Dunn 17,082
•County Commissioner Debbie Wood 17,082
•County Commissioner Joe Blanks 17,082
Benefits for the county officials are the same as state employees:
•Monthly Medical Insurance For Full Time Employees Single State Share $805
•Employee Share 15 Family State Share 805 Employee Share 205
State employees have 13 paid holidays and generally end with up 2 more for Thanksgiving and Christmas at the Governor’s pleasure.
Elected county officials have no specified holidays or vacation as the time off is as the elected official sees fit.
Retirement is based on the years service but after 18 years of service, the retiree earns 75% of his or her salary. In other words when Circuit Clerk Charles Story retires in February 2013, he will be paid 75% of his current salary.
I would point out that Chamber County elected officials were most cooperative and willing to provide information related to their earnings paid by the tax payers. It is good to know that the state Sunshine Salary information is in effect in Chambers County.
Asterisks by Judges Salaries indicate that salaries may vary slightly due to current funding shortfall.
In closing, reference the salaries paid to these officials may appear to some to be extravagant, consider that the assistant coaches at our major university athletic programs are paid $500,000 annually. It shows where our priorities are. The highest paid State Officials are the Judicial Salaries as the Chief Justice earns $181,127 annually and the 8 Associate Justices are each paid $180,005 annually. A salary of $15,000 per month will buy a lot of groceries.