Increased salaries for BOC members and the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office on the docket at BOC December Work Session

Published 1:22 pm Sunday, December 19, 2021

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AMERICUS – At its December Work Session on Tuesday, December 14, the Sumter County Board of Commissioners (BOC) held a public hearing at the Sumter County Courthouse to discuss whether or not the BOC members should have their pay increased. This would also include Commissioner Mark Waddell, who is currently serving as the Chairman of the BOC.

Waddell was not at Tuesday’s work session and Commissioner Scott Roberson led the proceedings in his place. The work session was still closed to the public, as far as in-person attendance is concerned, but was streamed online via the Zoom conference call service.

According to County Operations Administrator Rayetta Volley, the current base pay for each commissioner if $4,800.00, but the BOC wants the base pay for each commissioner to be increased to $8,000.00. If the pay raise is approved, it will go into effect on January 1, 2023.

Roberson asked if anyone who was listening in on the work session wanted to speak in favor of or against the BOC members having their pay increased. No one spoke in favor of or against the proposed pay increase and Roberson closed the public hearing to move on to other issues. However, later on in the Work Session, the BOC voted unanimously to approve a resolution to authorize an increase on the base compensation of the members of the BOC and its Chair, Mark Waddell. Commissioner Jesse Smith made a motion of approval and Commissioner Clay Jones seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the approval passed unanimously.

The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) has also been requesting to have the salaries of its employees increased. Sumter County Sheriff Eric Bryant came before the BOC at its November Work session and regular meeting requesting that there be salary increases for the employees in his department. “Hopefully, we’ve had an opportunity to review budget numbers and we are dually requesting the approval of those salary adjustments for all personnel within the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office,” said Bryant to the BOC at Tuesday night’s work session. Bryant went on to explain to the BOC that the salary increases would come from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funds that are designated for both the current fiscal year and the fiscal year after that. Bryant added that if during the third fiscal year there isn’t an alternative funding source available, then the SCSO would appeal to the taxpayers for a tax increase to generate those funds.

In a separate interview with the Americus Times-Recorder, Bryant said that the current base salary for an entry-level employee of the SCSO before the BOC’s approval to increase salaries was $13.17 an hour and that he wanted to increase that entry level salary to $15.19 an hour. However, when the BOC approved the increase in salaries of the SCSO employees at its December Work Session this past Tuesday, the entry-level salary was increased from $13.17 an hour to $14.48 an hour. As far as how these increases would affect more experienced and seasoned SCSO employees, Bryant told the ATR that it would depend on those employees’ current salaries, but added that he estimates that an experienced or tenured deputy making $15 an hour before the approved salary increases would now be making anywhere from $1.00 to $1.50 more after the BOC’s approval of the salary increases.

As far as what the percentage the increases would be, Bryant told the ATR that he did not know the exact percentage of the rate increases because it depends on each deputy’s current salary. “The rate increase affected one’s current hourly rate,” Bryant told the ATR. “All of the salaries of the county employees are based on a grade and a step. So now, all deputies will receive a four-step increase in their salary. Each step represents 1.7.2 percent. I think that would be equated to a four percent increase of the deputy’s salary.”

In his interview with the ATR regarding the matter, Bryant went on to explain that the figure of $2.5 million, which was brought up at the Work Session, was his original requested budget amount and that it was approved back on July 1, 2021. However, Bryant went on to say that the amount of $2.5 million was approved by the BOC in error. Bryant also stated that before the BOC’s original approval in July of 2021, the overall budget for the SCSO was $2.3 million. “It ($2.5 million) was my requested and approved amount. That’s where the $2.5 million came out at just for salaries on the Sheriff’s side,” Bryant told the ATR.

Bryant added that the $2.5 million was sufficient enough funding to cover the raises that he asked for and that the BOC, at its Work Session last Tuesday, approved the $2.5 million as his salary line item budget for the SCSO.

Bryant added that though he requested a total of $2.5 million in salary increases for the SCSO, the BOC originally recommended $2.3 million for SCSO salary increases. However, as mentioned earlier, Bryant stated that on July 1, 2021, the BOC erroneously approved that $2.5 million when they were supposed to approve $2.3 million. “In error, they approved the higher amount,” Bryant told the ATR. “So I merely went in and said, ‘Hey! You guys already approved it. Let’s use it.”

Bryant reiterated once again to the ATR that the BOC approved his requested amount of $2.5 million in error. He also added that though his goal was to have the entry-level base pay raised to $15.19 an hour for his entry-level employees, Bryant said that he and the BOC were able to negotiate the pay increases so that his entry-level employees would make $14.48 an hour, which is closer to his original goal of $15.19 an hour.

In his interview with the ATR, Bryant added that while its important to always be good stewards of taxpayers’ money, he also is appreciative of the BOC’s willingness to work closely with the Sheriff’s Office to try to get a more competitive salary to be able to recruit and retain employees at the SCSO.

At its Work Session this past Tuesday, the BOC went ahead and unanimously approved the salary increases for the SCSO that were discussed above. The BOC approved the increases in salaries at the Sheriff’s Office and the county jail that were submitted by Sheriff Bryant and those increases are to take effect during the first full pay period in January 2022. Commissioner Smith made a motion to approve and Commissioner Jones seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the approval passed unanimously.

In other news from the BOC Work Session, the BOC unanimously voted to approve to move forward with a Request For Proposal (RFP) fo4 the purchase of two new fire engines for Sumter County Fire and Rescue (SCFR). Sumter County Fire Chief Jerry Harmon told the BOC that two of the county’s fire stations have been temporarily closed down. One is on GA Hwy 27 just outside of town and the other is located on US Highway 19 South. According to Harmon, the reason for these temporary closures is because according to the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training site Review, there are two fire apparatuses at those sites that are out of service. “The two apparatuses I’m referring to are over 30 years old,” Harmon told the BOC. “We can’t get parts because the manufacturers no longer do them.”

Harmon went on to say that his department still has 11 fire engines that are over 30 years old and that the SCFR spends anywhere from $90,000 to $100,000 a year in maintenance costs just to keep those engines up and running. “We have four that are in need of repairs right now and those are upwards of $8,000.00 just in parts to keep those pumps running,” Harmon told the BOC. He added that some major changes need to take place because if the two fire stations remain closed, especially the one on GA Highway 27, the people who live in the subdivisions close to that station will have their home owners insurance rates would triple.

Because of these factors, Harmon came to the BOC with a Request For Proposal (RFP) to allow the SCFR to purchase two new fire engines. Harmon reminded the BOC that it had approved the USDA grant to the SCFR and that the USDA had agreed to give the SCFR $100,000, but the process has been delayed because according to Harmon, the USDA can’t find any of the paper work. Harmon stated, however, that his department desperately needs that grant money in order to purchase these much-needed fire engines. Harmon added that he wants the BOC to go ahead and approve the RFP so that the SCFR can go ahead and lock in the price for the two engines before there is a price increase in February of 2022. Harmon also stated that these two engines will cost anywhere from $250,000 to $300,000 and that the $100,000 grant from the USDA would help defray the cost. Roberson asked for a motion to approve Harmon’s RFP to purchase two new fire engines for the SCFR. Commissioner Smith made a motion of approval and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the approval passed unanimously.

After two years of only being able to access the Sumter County Board of Commissioners’ Work Sessions and Regular Meetings via Zoom because of COVID-19, the BOC finally decided to unanimously approve an agreement to allow the public back into the Sumter County Courthouse so that they can attend the meetings in person. Starting in January of 2022, citizens will be allowed to attend the meetings in person, but for those who would like to continue accessing the meetings via Zoom, that option will stay be available. Commissioner Smith made a motion to approve the re-opening of the courthouse to the public to attend the BOC meetings and Commissioner Jones seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the approval passed unanimously.

There were other items that were discussed and approved unanimously by the BOC. They are as follows: 1. Motion for approval, 2. Motion seconded

  • Approval of a resolution supporting reform to Georgia’s annexation dispute
  1. Commissioner Jones
  2. Commissioner Smith
  • Approval of Sole Source Justification from Municipal Emergency Services extrication tools, flow testing and pressure testing
  1. Commissioner Smith
  2. Commissioner Jones
  • Approval of the Addendum to the Lease Agreement between Sumter County, Georgia and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany, Inc.
  1. Commissioner Smith
  2. Commissioner Jones
  • Approval of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of the State of Georgia, the Sumter County Board of Commissioners (BOC) for the Southwestern Judicial Circuit for CJCC Grant No: C21-8-001 with base federal funds in the amount of $283,785 and matching funds in the amount of $70,946
  1. Commissioner Smith
  2. Commissioner Jones
  • Approval of the Agreement with BIS Digital, Inc. for Audio and Visual Equipment for the Sumter County Emergency Operations Center
  1. Commissioner Smith
  2. Commissioner Jones
  • Approval of Renewal of Alcoholic Beverage Licenses for these establishments: Jania Investments, LLC d/b/a Sam’s Country Store, PCC Investments, USA Inc. d/b/a Sam’s Package Store, Astro Club Inc., Huma Interprese LLC d/b/a N&K Food Mart, Double D Fast Food, Spring Creek Marina, Sarmapan Corporation, Wolf Creek Plantation, Brickyard Plantation Golf Club, American Legion, The Store on 280, Gas N Go Express, Volume Power Sports
  1. Commissioner Smith
  2. Commissioner Jones

Reflections Sports Bar & Grill also wants to renew its alcoholic beverage license and a public hearing to discuss the matter will be held during the BOC’s regular meeting on Tuesday, December 21, at 7 p.m.

  • Approval of Michael Horn to replace Michael Donnelly on the Sumter County Payroll Development Authority (PDA). Donnelly’s term expires on December 31, 2021.
  1. Commissioner Smith
  2. Commissioner Jones