A June 11 headline read “Big pay raises likely for county officials.” The taxpayers of Charleston County are about to get hit big time.
The tactics used by council to award these incredible percentage hikes are right out of the “handbook.” Last year the members voted themselves a 44 percent increase, with the chairman getting 50 percent. And now double-digit increases have been approved for county officials by the Council Finance Committee.
Just in case you didn’t know, that committee includes everyone on the council. Two council members were absent, and only one member voted no. I must have read it wrong. Surely they would not decide a major pay increase in this manner.
According to your report, the county auditor “noted that the raises were recommended by a county consultant who reviewed salaries of comparable positions locally and in the region” and found “significant disparities both inside and outside of Charleston County.”
Why pay a consultant? Wouldn’t simple phone calls to other counties have given them this information?
The county auditor would get the highest raise percentage — 44 percent — but there’s no appearance of impropriety. We didn’t recommend the increases, the consultant did. Can you conceive of a consultant suggesting a decrease in salary? Not likely.
The “handbook” says to use a worthy project to mask raises and soften opposition. After all, who would oppose public library capital improvements or public safety personnel requests?
Timing is everything. The only thing that was missing from this article was the standard response given when outrageous salary increases are awarded: “We have to remain competitive in order to attract the best people for the job.”