VOL. 132 | NO. 250 | Tuesday, December 19, 2017
County Commission Approves Sheriff Pay Raise
By Bill Dries
Shelby County commissioners voted 10-0 Monday, Dec. 18, to raise the pay of the Shelby County sheriff elected in the 2018 elections from the current $116,955 a year to $135,575 annually.
The passage of the ordinance was a reconsidered and amended version of an earlier ordinance that was voted down in November, coming up short of the nine-vote two-thirds majority needed to pass. Two other ordinances were also voted down in November that would have raised the pay of four other countywide elected officials and all 13 county commissioners effective with those elected in 2018. Those two ordinances were not reconsidered by the commission.
The earlier version would have raised the sheriff’s pay to $154,890 and boosted the pay of the county mayor from $142,500 to $172,100.
Once the item was reconsidered two weeks ago, commissioners opted to leave the mayor’s pay where it is and instead make the sheriff’s pay 95 percent of the mayor’s current pay.
The pay of the county’s two highest paid elected officials is connected with a county charter provision that says the sheriff must be paid 80 percent to 95 percent of what the mayor makes.
County commissioner Walter Bailey attempted to amend that to move back to the original pay hikes proposed for both but the amendment was voted down on a 5-5 tie vote.
In other action at the last commission meeting of the year, commissioners approved a resolution that sets the stage for a feasibility study of county government providing sewer services in unincorporated Shelby County.
The resolution by commissioner David Reaves also includes exploring the cost of the county buying Memphis city government’s sewer infrastructure that is in the unincorporated county and assessing the condition of that infrastructure.
The general policy direction follows the decision by Memphis mayor Jim Strickland in August to end any new connections to the city’s sewer system from developments outside the Memphis city limits.
Strickland has indicated talks with the county government about taking over the infrastructure outside the city limits is part of the new policy.
But any action beyond a feasibility study will be something for the new county mayor and county commission elected in August 2018 to consider, said county chief administrative officer Harvey Kennedy.
County public works director Tom Needham said the examination and conclusions should take about 14 months to compile.
While the administration has not said how much they think a county sewer system might cost some commissioners put the cost at around $40 million.
During Monday’s meeting, commissioners also learned county mayor Mark Luttrell vetoed their two latest resolutions on opioid litigation in a letter dated Dec. 13.
The resolutions passed at the Dec. 4 commission meeting hired attorney Allan Wade to represent the commission in a Chancery Court hearing and declared opioid addiction and its impact on county government services a public nuisance.
The Chancery Court hearing produced an order from Chancellor Jim Kyle effectively ending the litigation there. That lawsuit was over whether the commission had the right to file a Circuit Court lawsuit against two dozen drug manufacturers and distributors in behalf of county government.
Kyle ruled the commission did not but he did not void the lawsuit. Instead he gave Luttrell until the end of the year to intervene in the lawsuit. Luttrell filed a motion to intervene soon after.
With that Kyle ruled this month that his court’s involvement in the case is over.
In his formal letter announcing the vetoes, Luttrell said the commission could hire Wade through an engagement letter the county attorney’s office is currently discussing with Wade.
He said the declaration of a public nuisance while “couched in terms of legislative function, it attempts to authorize or ratify action that is executive.”