Gwinnett County wants to give its commission chairwoman a raise

The Story: Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson earns a salary of $74,266 per year for running the day-to-day operations of one of the state’s most populated counties.

Comparing Salaries: According to census data, the county has just under 1 million residents. However, the Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner earns about $141,098 per year, while the Gwinnett probate judge earns $146,417 per year. Paulding County, which has a population of 168,667 people, pays their commission chair $122,192 per year.

A Raise on the Horizon?: The Gwinnett County Commission would like to increase the pay of its chair, citing increased responsibilities and the sheer size of the county, but that requires approval from state lawmakers under the Gold Dome.

The commission took its first steps in getting Hendrickson’s pay increased by passing a unanimous resolution asking lawmakers to increase the pay for the commission chair.

The proposal would tie Hendrickson’s salary to the salary of sheriff’s of large counties and would increase her pay to $136,011. That number is the base salary for sheriff’s of Georgia counties with populations over 500,000 people.

If approved by lawmakers, the new salary would be effective on Jan. 1, 2022, unless the local delegation moves up the timeline. By law, the salary of the Board of Commissioners can be set by the General Assembly, which traditionally follows the lead of the local delegation.

The chair’s salary was last fixed in 2007.

Job Duties: The resolution said the adjustment would recognize the number of hours required by the position to provide studied and thoughtful responses to the issues facing the residents of the county. The chair is the only position on the board that is full time and routinely requires long hours into the evening and weekends.

The resolution observed that the salary correction would recognize the increased responsibility and workload of the chair resulting from the county’s increased population.

The chair of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners oversees the largest provider of municipal services in Georgia with more than 5,000 employees and a budget of $1.9 billion. Gwinnett County has a population estimated at 980,000 and is expected to reach 1.5 million by 2040.

The chair represents Gwinnett County on several powerful agencies, such as the Atlanta Regional Commission and Association County Commissioners of Georgia, and often serves as the voice of the county government with the state and federal governments, the media and the public.

According to the Gwinnett County board of commissioners, the position of board chair also requires breadth and depth of the knowledge on policies, the law, and operations of a wide range of services, such as:

  • Water and sewer 
  • Police and fire protection
  • Transportation and transit
  • Planning and zoning
  • Courts
  • Parks and recreation
  • Health and human services
  • Elections
  • Computer systems
  • Facilities
  • Budgets and government finance
  • Economics
  • Environmental issues
  • Health care
  • State and federal policies and legislation
  • Other external issues that could affect county operations

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