Updated:COBB COUNTY, Ga. —
Cobb County commissioners approved a pay raise for county workers for the first time in five years thanks to a budget surplus.
Only one commissioner voted against the 3 percent pay raise during Tuesday night’s board meeting.
Members of the county’s police department and other agencies turned out to see how the vote would go.
“Three percent is a huge thing. It’s a huge amount of money for us and it’s going to help us today, tomorrow and next year,” said James Travers, of the Cobb County Professional Firefighters association.
The money for the pay increase is coming from a surplus in the county wellness program.
The raise will go into effect in late December.
Some citizens, as well as commissioner Bob Ott, questioned whether one-time excess funds should be used to pay for a long-term pay increase.
“However, in light of upcoming changes to tax laws and health care, the county needs to be sure those indicators remain strong before committing to a permanent change in the salary structure,” Ott said.
Ott proposed a lump sum bonus to employees instead. In response, Chairman Tim Lee said the raises are critical to keeping workers happy, and most importantly, keeping them in Cobb County.
One employee who did not want to be identified showed Channel 2’s Amy Napier Viteri a text message from a co-worker that simply said, “Yeah :).”
“The 3 percent increase will follow us. The 3 percent bonus is a one lump sum, once you hit it, it’s gone,” Travers said.
The commissioners also approved a modest property tax decrease, slightly cutting the increase they voted for last year.
“As things improved we would roll it back and that’s what we’re doing. This is the first step toward that by reducing the millage .2 mills,” Lee said.
The property tax rate was increased last year to make up for a budget shortfall. This year’s cut is the first of a five-year plan to do away with last year’s increase.