County officials won't say exactly how much of a pay increase top county officials will be getting after a 26-cent property tax increase is expected to pass in a close vote on Thursday.
County Finance Director Louis Wright did not respond on a request for the exact amounts he and four other top officials - County Mayor Claude Ramsey, County Attorney Rheubin Taylor, County Mayor Chief of Staff Jeannine Alday and County Auditor Bill McGriff - will receive.
County School Board member Rhonda Thurman, who is leading an effort in opposition to the tax hike, said she called Mr. Wright for the salary figures, but was told he would not give them out until after the budget is finalized. She said she called County Attorney Taylor and he told her the same thing.
Under the tax increase, county employees are set to get an average 4.5-percent pay increase, plus there is another 1 percent set aside to bring up certain pay levels. It appears from county budget workpapers that top county officials will be on the high end of the percentage increases.
The size of the pay raise for the individual county employee is based on an evaluation by a supervisor as well as a comparison by a consultant of pay here to that elsewhere.
When the county mayor gets a pay increase, it sets off a chain reaction. Other salaries tied to it include the mayor of Chattanooga, the City Council, the County Commission and the County School Board.
Mr. Ramsey is expected to get a raise of more than $6,000 under the tax increase. He currently is paid $137,864.
Mayor Ron Littlefield will get an increase to the new Ramsey pay level.
County Attorney Taylor is now paid $133,976. That is over $19,000 more than City Attorney Randy Nelson ($112,408) gets.
The budget for the office of the county attorney lists salary increases at 3.7 percent. It includes $15,296 for pay increases for the office as well as $3,550 for "longevity" increases.
Ms. Alday currently is paid $133,641. That is over $16,000 more than Dan Johnson, the chief of staff to Mayor Ron Littlefield, earns. Mr. Johnson is at $117,488.
The budget for the office of Ms. Alday lists salary increases at 7.8 percent - close to the maximum amount of eight percent.
There is $18,749 included for pay increases and $2,300 for the "longevity" increase.
Working under Ms. Alday are assistant Deborah Garvich ($56,859) and communication manager Gina Hatler ($50,149).
Mr. McGriff is paid $117,007. The budget for the auditor's office lists a 10.5 percent increase in the salary item - going from $562,590 to $621,709. There are 10 persons listed on the worksheets. Not listed is Denise Hamby, who was recently hired by Mr. McGriff after she left the sheriff's office as finance director.
Mr. Wright currently makes $116,289. That is about $4,500 higher than the $111,744 his counterpart at the city, Daisy Madison, receives.
The budget for Mr. Wright's two-person office is due to go up on salaries by 5.6 percent. It includes $8,556 in new money for salaries and $1,700 for the "longevity" pay. A secretary at $34,962 is the only other person in the office.