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Evans Local Government

Evans Commissioners Oppose Request for Raises by Judge, Solicitor

The Evans County Board of Commissioners met Wednesday evening for a budget workshop on the Fiscal Year 2018 budget. The overview of proposals from each department were reviewed ahead of the meeting by Chairman Jill Griffin, Commissioner Brian Croft, and County Administrator Casey Burkhalter. In recent weeks, the three have weighed the department financial requests for the upcoming year versus what the county can afford without raising taxes.


Two positions that caused a more elaborate discussion were requests for raises by the Evans County State Court Judge and Evans County Solicitor. Judge Ron Hallman and Attorney Bill Callaway each requested a $2,500 increase to their annual salary. Both are elected positions that serve the entire county and are considered part-time. Both work roughly 11 days per year and operate private law practices outside of their official county business.

Callaway earns $42,000 annually while Hallman earns $45,000 annually for their position. The $2,500 increase would put them at $44,500 and $47,500 respectively.

Burkhalter read an email from Hallman to Commissioners which referenced the 3% raise for other county employees in FY 2017 in justification for the 5% increase for the state court judge and solicitor. “Keep in mind that we get a salary in lieu of the county providing us with an office, secretary, computers, phones, all of which we pay for from our own pockets,” Hallman’s email read. Callaway sent an email seconding Hallman’s request and reasoning.

Commissioner Croft commented that the two choose to use their own staff out of convenience and Chairman Jill Griffin pointed out that the pair works 11 days per year.

The State Court budget request for salaries totaled $92,000 for FY 2018, but the official recommendation was for $87,000, meaning a raise was not factored into the budget.

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs provides salary recommendations for counties based on size and population and groups similar counties together for comparison. Here is how Evans County matched up to comparable areas:

STATE COURT JUDGE (annually)

Evans County ranked second highest in its comparable group.

  1. McIntosh County – $75,759
  2. Evans County – $45,000 (without raise)
  3. Candler County – $36,000
  4. Early County – $35,000
  5. Screven County – $31,205
  6. Jeff Davis County – $25,000

STATE COURT SOLICITOR (annually)

Evans county ranked THIRD highest in this category for counties of similar size and population.

  1. McIntosh County – $63,132
  2. Jeff Davis County – $52,052
  3. Evans County – $42,000 (without raise)
  4. Candler County – $33,000
  5. Charlton County – $26,931
  6. Screven County $23,400
  7. Bacon County – $19,137

Toombs County, which has more than double the population of Evans, earns $30,000.

Evans County is also providing health insurance benefits for both elected officials.

Callaway came under fire last summer after court documents revealed he sent a substitute to serve as Solicitor for a considerable number of court dates in 2014 and 2015. His substitutes are not compensated by the court or Callaway when they serve in his place. Callaway is also the former county attorney for Evans and is the current city attorney for Claxton.

Chairman Jill Griffin recommended that the salary increase not be made and Commissioner Del Beasley abstained from commenting or recommending any action due to a familial conflict of interest.

No formal action was taken on the budget and the final recommendations will be publicized for citizen review before the Commission takes a vote.

Watch the video on playback: [Discussion begins just after 56:00 mark]

Evans Co Board of Commission Budget Hearing – begins at 5PM

Posted by All On Georgia – Evans on Wednesday, May 17, 2017

 

Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com.

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