Fayette public safety employees get 19% pay raise, other county workers get 10.45% boost

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L-R, Fayette County commissioners Eric Maxwell, Edward
L-R, Fayette County commissioners Eric Maxwell, Edward "Edge" Gibbons, and Lee Hearn. Photo/Cal Beverly.

Tax increase to pay for the raises expected next spring — 

There’s a help wanted sign in front of the Fayette County administrative building, emblematic of the current nationwide problem of too few workers applying for too many open jobs.

In response, the County Commission Tuesday voted a  10.45% pay raise for all county employees — county administrator included — and an additional 8.55% bump for all public safety employees — the sheriff included.

That’s a 19% pay boost for sheriff’s deputies, jailers, firefighters and EMS personnel. The starting salary of a deputy sheriff goes from $42,117 a year to a new starting pay of $50,117.

Fayette County Administrator Steve Rapson. File photo.
Fayette County Administrator Steve Rapson. File photo.

That’s enough to make Fayette competitive with surrounding jurisdictions, County Administrator Steve Rapson said. “We lure A-players with higher pay,” he said.

Rapson noted that Peachtree City recently raised its pay packages for both public safety and regular employees, which left Fayette rates significantly lower and subject to employee turnover from what he termed “the Great Resignations” era.

The county can absorb the increased salary expenses through the remainder of this fiscal year, Rapson said, though he warned, “Tax increases are coming.”

By next summer, the county millage rate is expected to rise from its current 4.034 mills to a proposed new rate of 4.305 mills, or about an average tax bill increase of $4.58 a month, Rapson said.

He noted that Sheriff’s Office, Fire, EMS, Marshal and 911 positions represent nearly 55% of the county workforce. All other county positions represent 45% of the county workforce.

Fayette County Commissioner Eric Maxwell. File photo.
Fayette County Commissioner Eric Maxwell. File photo.

In voting for the pay hike, Commissioner Eric Maxwell called the vote “one of bigger decisions this board will make” this year. He called it a “huge shift” that will require a tax increase next spring.

“We’ve got to do this,” Maxwell said. “We don’t have a choice.”

Commissioner Charles Rousseau decried “incendiary words” about defunding police, though he called for a “balanced approach” to “demilitarize the police” and more funding for services to citizens, including money from the county tax coffers to local nonprofits. The county currently does not donate any money to nonprofits.

Fayette County Commissioner Charles Rousseau. File photo.
Fayette County Commissioner Charles Rousseau. File photo.

The pay raises go into effect Jan.1 and include — according to a motion from Commissioner Edge Gibbons — both the county administrator and Fayette County Sheriff Barry Babb.

Though he ended up supporting the inclusion of the two, Maxwell said he had not anticipated their addition. He raised the question, “What about” other county officials like the judges, district attorney, court officials, and others that were not included in the pay raise package. The pay raise passed without answering that question.

10 COMMENTS

  1. This is both OBSCENE and ABSURD! The COLA for Social Security Recipients is hovering around FIVE PERCENT – if it ever materializes. This is a RECKLESS and IRRESPONSIBLE ABUSE of the taxpayers’ money withiut a doubt. Few other groups in the USA are seeing those kinds of OUTRAGEOUS PAY RAISES!

      • How demeaning. “Warm bodies?” Firefighters and sworn-by-oath officers risk their lives, as well as place their families in jeopardy of losing bread winners, to keep all of us safe. They don’t even have the benefit of publicly stating their personal beliefs about some of the people they try to safeguard. Yes, the County is trying to retain them; qualified personnel attrition is more costly than a once in a decade 19 percent retention pay raise. Governments are created to protect, not spread sunshine and make miserable people feel all warm and fuzzy. One can do better than call them “warm bodies,” even if it’s just keeping their sentiment to themselves.

        • I’m sorry that my comment disturbed your delicate sensibilities. If the bodies weren’t warm, they’d be dead. I don’t believe it would be in our best interest to pay dead people, but who knows, maybe you’d think that was okay.

          • I don’t accept your apology because I believe you really don’t give a flip who you hurt or demoralize just to feed your ego. I think your writings are divisive, demeaning and reflect a lack of value towards humanity. Your spewing snarky comments may be Constitutionally guaranteed, but you do not seem to realize the guarantee is provided on the backs of others and their sacrifices. I think you need to grow up and act more responsibly. Nobody likes an ignorantly ugly and irresponsible person. The “troll” comment, as you defined it, most certainly appears to apply here.

          • Doug, you’re making a mountain out of a molehill. My comment to hometown600 was merely to make an observation that efficiency of county workers was not relevant to the raise they received. It has to do with retention/attraction and the competitive nature of employment. Based on your response, I can see that you agree. I’m all for the wage increase. Again, I see we agree. I never said anything about fire fighters, police officers, or any other first responders. I didn’t mention any subset of county worker. You did. You invented a story to attempt to bolster your ill feelings towards me. Why?

            It’s okay if you don’t care for my comments. It’s okay to dislike me. You don’t have to invent a story line to validate the reasons why you don’t like what I say.

            And, let’s talk about the troll label. Cal and his website trolls for readers so he can gain advertisers to pay his bills. The Opinion and Letter’s to the Editor are sections that troll to lure hits to the website. The authors of those opinion sections troll for comments in order to validate their own beliefs. The people that leave comments are trolling for others to respond to them. You trolled me after my response to another commenter. So, let’s try to understand the label and the reason it’s thrown around so flippantly. Calling someone a troll is nothing more than one who wants to feel morally superior, knows they are defeated and has nothing additional to add.

  2. ” …he called for a “balanced approach” to “demilitarize the police” and more funding for services to citizens, including money from the county tax coffers to local nonprofits. The county currently does not donate any money to nonprofits.”

    Leave it to the lone Democrat to try to make a non-point and “fix” something that isn’t broken. “De-militarize the Police”? Last time I checked I don’t think local and county police and sheriffs deputies are foisting an armada of military grade hardware on we the people. I’ve not seen any evidence of such “militarization” of the police forces. And what, exactly, is a “balanced approach” to policing? Maybe Commissioner Rousseau could elaborate a bit more rather than simply quoting from the Democrat play book.

    And donating to non-profits? Which ones? Who determines who gets the larder from the taxpayers? I already contribute to my cadre of favorite non-profits; I certainly don’t want my local government taking my tax money and giving it to charity.