I was thinking today’s story that Tom Humphrey (the best state government reporter in Tennessee) and I teamed up on about state-mandated pay raises for some county elected officials.
The political enemies of those who get them are going to have a field day.
And really, they shouldn’t.
The issue is that these salary hikes exist.
Perhaps that should be changed. I don’t know. (Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyna, tried but then all his buds shut him down.)
But, you can’t fault them for taking the money. As county Register of Deeds Sherry Witt told me: “It’s probably illegal if we don’t.”
I think she’s right, certainly for county Mayor Tim Burchett.
The charter says he has to make more than any other county elected official. If he turned down the raise, then he’d violate the charter.
Not a good thing for him.
(On a side note, the mayor actually can get up to 5 percent more than any other elected official, although Burchett and his predecessor, Mike Ragsdale, only accepted $1 more.)
Burchett did, however, years ago vote for the pay hikes. But at the time – 2002 – I really don’t think he had plans to be mayor. Governor maybe. President even. Not mayor.
Anyhoo, the deal was that county officials each year would nag the state officials for the pay increases. It got to be such a headache, that they tied the raises to the census and the consumer price index. That way they wouldn’t have to deal with the pesky county officials.
Everyone – except for five state senators (including Burchett) and two representatives – approved it.
Then they all promptly forgot about it.
And I doubt the issue is dead.
Far from it.