Wilson County commissioners ultimately passed the 2014-15 budget Monday night, but not without discussion.
After passing several bonds and a resolution governing the use of county right-of-way, commissioners prepared to vote on a 1.5 percent increase in salary for all general fund employees, including library employees. Commissioner Randy Hall asked to amend the resolution to give commissioners $50 per day for each meeting they would attend.
“The reason why I seconded that is because we’ve had a problem in the past with people not coming to committee meetings. An incentive to get them to come is to pay them. If you come to the meetings like you’re supposed to, you get the money. If you don’t you don’t get paid,” said Commissioner Jeff Joines.
Commissioner Jerry McFarland asked County Mayor Randall Hutto if he supported the measure.
“Who decides when you get a raise? The state decides when I get a raise. You decide when everybody else gets a raise. Who decides when you get a raise? That’s an issue. Fifty dollars per committee meeting, and I’m the one who appoints those committees. I’m going to have a lot of people jockeying for those committees that meet every week,” Hutto said.
Initially, the discussion stemmed from a resolution that was withdrawn from the agenda.
Commissioner Frank Bush sponsored a resolution to establish an increase in pay for county commissioners.
“The reason [the resolution] was pulled was because the rules specifically identify the rate of pay for county commissioners. It doesn’t in that rule allow for any other increments or any increases. It appears to me that the Rules Committee needs to adjust that particular rule, or remove it entirely, before we have the ability to make any decisions in this body,” Bush said.
Several commissioners had things to say regarding the issue of compensation. Annette Stafford quoted numbers researched by Rachel Warren, executive assistant to the county mayor. She mentioned both Sumner and Williamson counties, whose commissioners receive $500 per month, as well as the Lebanon City Council and Mt. Juliet City Commission. Lebanon councilors are paid $650 per month flat rate and are offered insurance. Mt. Juliet commissioners are paid $950 per month flat rate.
Commissioners Clint Thomas and Nathan Clariday each voiced the opinion that the measure should be returned to committee.
“I think we should take it to the proper committee to hash out before we vote on it,” said Clariday.
The amendment failed to pass, not receiving the required 17 votes. The original resolution with the 1.5 percent salary increase was then approved in a 21-3 vote. Commissioner Bernie Ash abstained while commissioners Bush, Clariday and Thomas each voted against. The same voted was recorded on a resolution making appropriations for the budget.