MEMPHIS, Tenn.– Big pay raises are coming for the next Shelby County mayor, sheriff, and county commissioners after the current commissioners debated the pay raise proposals this week.
The commission approved an almost 20% pay hike for the next elected group of county commissioners and a 21% increase for the next elected sheriff and mayor meaning the raise for county commissioners will go from $21,100 to $24,900 a year, the pay raise for mayor will go from about $173,000 to $210,000 and the sheriff’s salary will jump from $164,000 to $199,500 a year.
The Shelby County Commission pay increase will also mean a pay hike for the Memphis City Council to the same pay under terms of the Memphis City Charter.
Call it an early Christmas gift for the next Shelby County mayor, sheriff, and county commissioners and it’s one current County Mayor Lee Harris says needs to be returned.
“I think this is not the right time for a salary increase. In fact, I can’t think of a a more awful time for a salary increase,” Harris said. “Right now we got a lot of folks recovering from the pandemic, gas is over three dollars a gallon and we know that food prices and rental prices are going through the roof. So, there are a lot of folks struggling.”
Commissioner Mick Wright had proposed a lower raise for commissioners but could support more money for the sheriff to fight crime.
“We do need to elevate the importance we’re putting on, especially the sheriff right now and law enforcement and anything we can do elevate that work and make sure we’re attracting the people we need,” he said. “Everyone in Memphis is aware we are hurting in this community, and we are suffering from a lot of violence right now.”
Some questioned the timing while others say the pay raise is justified.
“When you look at other counties our size, we don’t even compare. They’re making anywhere from $70 (thousand) to six figures,” said Commissioner Eddie Jones.
The pay raises will go into effect for the county commission, county mayor and sheriff elected after August of next year.
Lee Harris is expected to run for re-election next year as is Sheriff Floyd Bonner.