Otis Sanford: County pay raises are not a good idea

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A move by Shelby County commissioners to give themselves and other county elected officials hefty pay raises appears to be in jeopardy.

And it`s probably just as well.

No one on the commission has cited a clear and convincing reason to impose these pay increases other than it just seems to be a good idea.

But it`s not.

Sponsors of this half-baked plan should scrap it altogether or put it to voters in a referendum next year —a suggestion that Commissioner Van Turner floated on Monday.

Turner pushed the alternative as just seven of the 13 commissioners voted in favor of the raises in the second of three readings. Nine yes votes will be needed at the third reading in two weeks and it`s highly doubtful that commissioners will get there.

The proposed increases range from 10 percent for commissioners to more than 32 percent for the sheriff.

Another alternative offered by Commissioner Turner would tie future increases for elected officials to raises approved for rank and file county employees. The problem with that plan is that commissioners are the ones who approve rank and file raises so they would still be giving themselves increases.

The best move would be to put the issue on the ballot during the 2018 county election. If voters approve it, fine. But for now, this idea seems like a nonstarter.