Our View: Commission right to delay vote on raises

The Wilson County Commission did everything right Monday night regarding giving themselves a bump in pay.
Aug 27, 2014

The Wilson County Commission did everything right Monday night regarding giving themselves a bump in pay. 

They brought it up, discussed it out in the open and tabled it for another day in favor of seeking more information and input. One might argue the information laid out Monday night was enough to give compelling reason a raise for commissioners is justified. 

Commissioner Annette Stafford quoted numbers researched by Rachel Warren, executive assistant to the county mayor. She mentioned both Sumner and Williamson counties, where commissioners receive $500 per month, as well as the Lebanon City Council and Mt. Juliet City Commission. Lebanon councilors are paid $650 per month flat rate and are offered insurance. Mt. Juliet commissioners are paid $950 per month flat rate.

Wilson County commissioners currently make $400 per month for their service to the community. 

Initially Commissioner Frank Bush sponsored a resolution to establish an increase in pay for county commissioners.

“The reason [the resolution] was pulled was because the rules specifically identify the rate of pay for county commissioners. It doesn’t in that rule allow for any other increments or any increases. It appears to me that the Rules Committee needs to adjust that particular rule, or remove it entirely, before we have the ability to make any decisions in this body,” Bush said.

After that measure was pulled, commissioners prepared to vote on a 1.5 percent increase in salary for all general fund employees, including library employees. Commissioner Randy Hall asked to amend the resolution to give commissioners $50 per day for each meeting they would attend.

“The reason why I seconded that is because we’ve had a problem in the past with people not coming to committee meetings. An incentive to get them to come is to pay them. If you come to the meetings like you’re supposed to, you get the money. If you don’t you don’t get paid,” said Commissioner Jeff Joines.

Ultimately, the amendment failed to pass, not receiving the required 17 votes. The original resolution with the 1.5 percent salary increase was then approved in a 21-3 vote.

It’s really not a question of whether commissioners should receive a pay increase or an incentive to attend committee meetings. That will apparently be addressed by the commissioners themselves in due time. 

What’s important, however, is that the discussion continues, and it takes place out in the open for all to see and hear. 

It should also be noted that while commissioners didn’t get their increase in pay, they also didn’t put themselves before the hundreds of Wilson County employees, who did receive a raise Monday night. 

That was a commendable gesture. 

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