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County Manager Gets 22 Percent Pay Raise

Commissioner Bell says the increase is "totally warranted, totally justified." County employees who say they're disappointed and the board's decision has damaged morale.

Forsyth County employees who have endured furloughs, unpaid holidays and salary freezes for three years watched in anger and disappointment as county commissioners unanimously voted to give their boss, County Manager Doug Derrer, a 22 percent pay raise at last night's meeting.

Derrer's pay now increases from $130,000 to nearly $158,757 annually. In addition, he will receive an increase in auto allowance from $6,000 to $7,211.

Sgt. Eric Silveus of the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office and Theresa Goss, who is an administrative specialist in the Solicitor's Office, criticized the board's decision during the Public Comment portion of the meeting.

Silveus said, "We as county employees met here and gave up several areas of our compensation to assist the county in balancing the budget. If we're going to continue to give up our salaries and our benefits, every county employee should do the same."

He pointed out that since Jan 2010, 35 employees had left the Sheriff's Office for better pay and better retirement benefits.

Goss said, "Speaking on behalf of around 1,100 county employees, I would like to express our extreme disappointment with this board's decision to give one single individual a 22 percent pay increase."

She reminded commissioners that during a board meeting in 2010, commissioners asked county employees, "to pull together, tighten our belts and be patient while we work through these tough economic times. I respectfully say Forsyth County employees have done this. We're still doing it and we will continue to do it."

But now, she added, county employees feel they have been bypassed and the board's decision has damaged morale.

When they finished speaking, the commissioners' meeting room which was nearly full, erupted in long, loud applause and some rose to their feet in appreciation of their comments.

After the meeting, several county employees, who asked not to be identified, said they were disappointed by the board's decision.

One said, "They have no clue how bad employee morale is as a result of this." Another said, "I couldn't have done it. I couldn't walk back through my department if I had taken a 22 percent pay raise."

After the meeting, Commissioner Patrick Bell adamantly defended the board's decision."It was totally warranted," he said. "Totally justified. I think it's important to note that there were no county employees here."

When one reporter reminded him of the comments of Goss and Silveus and the affirmation they received from others in the audience, Bell said, "They're not county employees. They're constitutional officers."

In an exclusive, written statement presented to Cumming Patch, Derrer said, "I understand and respect the comments made this evening regarding the salary increase approved by the Board of Commissioners. I fully intend to do everything in my power, as I have the past three years, to restore benefits to all county employees. The cost-saving measures implemented in the last three years were done as an effort to strengthen the financial health of Forsyth County both short and long term."

Derrer added that county officials would soon begin to develop the 2012 budget.

"If it's determined that funding is available, I'm confident that the Board of Commissioners will consider restoring as many benefits as possible to all county employees."

Commissioners approved Derrer's raise under the Consent Agenda along with nine other items, including a recommendation by the Animal Control & Shelter Advisory Committee. The committee recommended that should commissioners approve the  new shelter, funding for construction and furnishing of the facility in an amount up to $2.5 million be included at the top of the list in a possible SPLOST VII Referendum.

Commissioners also presented plaques to 25-year county employees Alisa Garner, who works in the Engineering Department, and Tommy Bruce who works in Parks & Recreation.

Official Statement From County Manager Doug Derrer

"I understand and respect the comments made this evening (Thursday, April 21) regarding the salary increase approved by the Board of Commissioners. I fully intend to do everything in my power, as I have the past three years, to restore benefits to all employees.

Cost-saving measures implemented in the last three years were done in an effort to strengthen the financial health of Forsyth County both short and long term. During the next three months, we will be developing the preliminary 2012 budget submittals from county departments and elected officials, project revenues and present a proposed, balanced budget to the Board of Commissioners.

If it's determined that funding is available, I'm confident that the Board of Commissioners will consider restoring as many benefits as possible to all county employees. The efforts of the Board of Commissioners and the finance committee have put Forsyth County in a much stronger financial position than most."

david shelton April 22, 2011 at 05:45 PM
this is appauling...no raise for 3 years for the typical joe or jane,furloughs and the employees are bending over backwards to make the system work all for their bosses benefit! what 130 grand isn't enough? well when elections come i'm sure the 1100 county employees will remember this...I WILL!
Charity Zierten April 22, 2011 at 06:01 PM
This is unbelievable and horrible! If we're losing public safety personnel, it doesn't make sense for this type of pay raise. No pay raise should've been granted until all of the other benefits were reinstated!
Tabitha Davidson April 22, 2011 at 06:10 PM
I wish I could put into words how absolutely ridiculous this is.
Bill April 22, 2011 at 07:36 PM
Thank you for reading Cumming Patch, David. I have to agree. Doug Derrer is the best county manager the county has had in 20 years. I've said that to him on more than one occasion. However, a 22% pay raise in this economy is lunacy. Not only can taxpayers not afford it right now, but it is simply unfair to 1,100 hard working county employees who have sacrificed and whose families have sacrificed for three years. I am particularly disappointed that commissioners showed a lack of courage in placing the issue on the Consent Agenda so they wouldn't have to discuss it publicly.
Bill April 22, 2011 at 07:45 PM
Thank you for your comment, Charity, and thank you for reading Cumming Patch. The way the county blogs are working overtime, it looks like the only ones who don't agree with you are the county commissioners.
Bill April 22, 2011 at 07:46 PM
Thanks, Tabitha. Looks like you just did. Thanks for being a Cumming Patch reader.
J D Fowler April 26, 2011 at 07:45 PM
Let it be known that I came here to read your article because it was posted on Facebook. These types of raises upset the citizens all over the Untied States of America because no ones job is worth more than the next person in line who is suffering to pay their morgages, utilities and just survive. Funny how government officials always get the raises but those that put them there don't. That is ok, payback is just around the corner during the elections and folks will not forget.

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