Yes, Berkeley County bureaucrats, there is a Santa Claus.
Glance at salaries
Supervisor Dan Davis $131,448*Sheriff Wayne DeWitt $98,183Clerk of Court Mary Brown $89,582Probate Judge Keith W. Kornahrens $77,406Register of Deeds Cindy Forte $76,506Coroner Bill Salisbury $68,201Auditor Janet Brown Jurosko $58,804Treasurer Carolyn Umphlett $58,804County Council members (part-time) $12,000**Excluded from bonusesSalaries rounded to the nearest dollar
Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt and six other elected officials who cried foul when they were left out of the county’s Christmas bonuses this month will get the payout after all.
In a letter to the council dated Friday, the officials asked council to reconsider its decision “in the interest of fairness.”
They wrote, in part, “(W)e are extremely disappointed and puzzled that we as elected officials are apparently viewed differently and treated with apparent less respect than appointed or hired employees.”
At a special meeting Wednesday, council agreed that the officials deserve the bonus, although one councilman held steadfast to his original belief.
“When you run for office, you enter into a covenant with the voters and agree to serve your term at the salary offered,” said Councilman Tim Callanan, who cast the lone dissenting vote. He said he is not against salary increases being given at the beginning of a term of office.
Technically called a “one-time distribution,” the bonus is equal to up to 3 percent of employees’ salary and is not tied to performance. The checks should be issued by the end of the week, said Deputy County Supervisor Kace Smith.
“I’m just glad they decided to include us,” said Auditor Janet Brown Jurosko. “It wasn’t the money. It was just that we were being perceived as being different from the other employees.”
Elected officials were excluded Dec. 10 from the payout given to other county employees after a motion by Callanan passed unanimously.
Last year, council members, who serve part-time, voted to exclude themselves and Supervisor Dan Davis, a full-time elected official, from 1 percent bonuses, but included other elected officials.
“This has nothing to do with politics,” Councilman Caldwell Pinckney said Wednesday. “It’s just the right thing to do because (the elected officials) serve our citizens of Berkeley County as well as everybody else does that’s been granted that 3 percent.”
Elected officials will receive the bonus as long as they have not already received a 3 percent increase this year. The auditor, treasurer and probate judge are paid by a combination of state and county money that includes mandated cost-of-living adjustments.
Davis, who was attending to a personal matter Wednesday morning, was excluded after County Attorney Nicole Scott Ewing told council that “after a quick and dirty reading of the plain language of the (state) law, it appears the council cannot give him an increase in salary” during his term of office.
Davis, who last year requested to be excluded, said he was fine with council’s decision. If he had received a bonus, he would have donated it to the county or to charity, he said.
“I don’t think we were aware that was an exclusion for the supervisor’s position, so that kind of settles the matter once and for all anyway,” he said.
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or www.facebook.com/brindge.