New law boosts some local officials’ pay


A number of local officials are getting raises in the coming year that required no local vote or even public notice.

Since House Bill 279 passed the Georgia General Assembly earlier this year, the county’s spending budget is going to increase by about $20,000 in 2016 as certain salaries tied to specific state officials will automatically rise.

The bill boosted the pay of Superior Court judges and district attorneys as well as some other court officials. It also addressed the number of judges on various appellate courts and expenses for judicial officials. It has been reported that judges across the state have asked for pay raises for quite some time.

In Fayette County, by law the salaries of county commissioners, state court judge and solicitor, and magistrate judges are tied directly to the pay of a superior court judge.

Therefore, when the Griffin Judicial District’s four superior court judges get a raise, so do all of the others — 5 percent in this case, effective Jan. 1, 2016.

County officials provided a list of all affected local office holders and their salaries, as well as how much the increases will cost the county.

In addition to the 5-percent raises for the positions listed above, the commissioners and a number of constitutional officers (tax commissioner, superior court clerk, probate judge, coroner, sheriff) would receive a 1-percent cost-of-living adjustment per the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget having calculated the COLA that applies to county official salaries effective Jan. 1, according to County Administrator Steve Rapson.

“In this particular case the Board of Commissioners receive both, since they’re also tied to Superior Court judge’s salary,” Rapson stated.

According to a chart provided by Rapson and his human resource department, the biggest impact is seen by state court officials because their pay is far higher to begin with.

Fayette State Court Judge Jason B. Thompson, who makes $140,626.89 in the current calendar year, will make $146,038.50 in 2016.

For Fayette County Solicitor General Jamie K. Inagawa, his salary will increase from $110,470.17 to $114,528.88 during that time.

The salaries of the various commissioners differ slightly according to their years on the board, ranging from $23,597.89 for first-year commissioner Pota Coston to $31,175.23 for the current chairman, Charles Oddo, who receives a supplement for that position. Raises for each of the five commissioners will range from $1,414.45 to $1,811.52 over the next year.

Magistrate judges in Fayette make less than county commissioners, and all but the chief magistrate will see their pay increase by less than $1,000.

In all, Rapson’s office calculated an overall increase to the county budget of 4.35 percent, which comes out to $10,438.71 for the upcoming budget year that starts July 1 and a total of $20,877.42 for the 2016 calendar year.