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May 2020, Vol. 15, No.5 Subscribe | Past issues | Advertise | eMagazine Archives

County Official Salaries for 2021 Remain in Flux

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Based on legislation passed last year (Senate Bill 171), county constitutional officers (sheriffs, tax commissioners, probate judges, and superior court clerks) will receive a 5% raise on their base salaries effective January 1, 2021. This increase in base salary does not apply to magistrate judges or coroners. Those new base salaries (before addition of items such as longevity increases and statutory/local supplements) also incorporate all prior-year cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for those officials. Tables showing those January 1, 2021 adjusted base salaries may be found here.  The increase in base salaries will also increase the amount of longevity increases for those constitutional officers paid according to statute.  SB 171 provides for similar increases (also effective January 1, 2021) for several statutory monthly supplements for those constitutional officers: superior court clerks also serving as state court clerks; probate judges also serving as magistrates, elections superintendents, and/or traffic court judges; sheriffs providing services to state courts or other local courts; and tax commissioners conducting tax sales as ex officio sheriffs. While the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has not officially published updated county population figures (which serve as the basis for the above officials’ base salaries), the U.S. Census 2019 populations estimates for all Georgia counties are listed here.

However, the suspension of the General Assembly’s 2020 legislative session means that many questions remain relating to salary calculations. In addition to the above county officers, county commissioners and magistrate judges receive COLAs whenever COLAs are generally awarded to state employees. In light of current economic circumstances, it is questionable whether the state’s yet-to-be-finalized Fiscal Year 2021 Budget will include a COLA; however, it is worth noting that the version of that Budget that passed the House (prior to the current public health emergency) included a 2% state COLA. Additionally, bills remain active for the 2020 legislative session that would 1) provide a 5% base-salary increase to magistrate judges (similar to SB 171’s changes for the four categories of constitutional officers) and 2) correct a drafting error in SB 171 relating to the applicability of 2020 COLAs for the four constitutional officers.

ACCG will still be publishing its annual Salary Guide for County Officials in the coming weeks. However, because of the issues noted above, counties should be aware that final answers on all January 1, 2021 salary and compensation questions will not be known until the 2020 General Assembly reconvenes, finalizes the FY2021 Budget, and adjourns prior to the end of June.

Mauldin & Jenkins
East West Bank
Georgia Transmission Corporation
Bo Phillips Company
ACCG, Georgia's County Association
191 Peachtree Street NE, Suite 700
Atlanta, GA 30303
phone: 404-522-5022 | fax: 404-525-2477 |