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VOL. 132 | NO. 251 | Wednesday, December 20, 2017

County Commission Approves Sheriff Pay Raise

By Bill Dries

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Shelby County commissioners voted 10-0 Monday, Dec. 18, to raise the pay of the Shelby County sheriff elected in 2018 from $116,955 a year to $135,575 annually.

The ordinance approved was an amended version of an earlier ordinance that was voted down in November, coming up short of the nine votes – a two-thirds majority – needed to pass. Two related ordinances were also voted down in November that would have raised the pay of four other county elected officials and all 13 county commissioners effective with those elected in 2018. Those two ordinances were not reconsidered by the commission Monday.

The November 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.

Commissioners opted to leave the mayor’s pay where it is and instead raise only the sheriff’s pay to 95 percent of what the mayor makes annually. By county charter, the sheriff’s salary must be 80 percent to 95 percent of what the mayor is paid.

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 to provide sewer services in unincorporated Shelby County.

David Reaves

According to the resolution proposed by commissioner David Reaves, the county will explore the cost of buying the city of Memphis’ sewer infrastructure in unincorporated areas of the county and assess the condition of that infrastructure.

The move follows a decision by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland in August to end any new connections to the city’s sewer system for developments outside the Memphis city limits.

Strickland has indicated talks with county government about taking over infrastructure outside the city limits is part of the new policy.

But any action beyond a feasibility study will be something for a new county mayor and county commission 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.

Commissioners also learned Monday that county Mayor Mark Luttrell vetoed their two latest resolutions on opioid litigation in a letter dated Dec. 13.

One resolution they passed Dec. 4 was hiring attorney Allan Wade to represent the commission in an ongoing Chancery Court hearing and the other declared opioid addiction and its impact on county government services a public nuisance.

The Chancery Court matter seeks to determine whether the commission had the right to file a Circuit Court lawsuit against two dozen drug manufacturers and distributors in behalf of county government. Chancellor Jim 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 Dec. 13 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.”

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 19 170
BUILDING PERMITS 0 305 3,056
BANKRUPTCIES 20 118 736
BUSINESS LICENSES 27 53 329
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0