Habersham Commission votes to raise deputy pay

After Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell’s pleas to the Habersham Commission to increase deputy pay, the commission voted unanimously at their May 10 called meeting to increase hourly pay for all Sheriff’s Office deputies by $2.30.

According to Terrell, of the nine counties surrounding Habersham, Habersham has the lowest pay for detention officers. This pay increase will bring Habersham up to a more competitive hourly wage– something that has been an obstacle for bringing in new applicants to an already struggling department.

“If it takes raising taxes, then guess what? It’s time to step up to the plate, we have got to raise taxes to pay for these men and women,” Terrell said. “If you need someone to blame the raise on, blame it on me. I’ll take the heat if you can’t.”

Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell, at the podium far right, made an impassioned plea for a deputy pay raise. He urged commissioners to raise taxes if that’s what it takes to pay for the increase adding, “If you need someone to blame the raise on, blame it on me. I’ll take the heat if you can’t.” (livestream image)

Terrell says multiple people have come to him advocating for an increase in pay for his employees, and even saying that if a tax raise is necessary, they support it. County Manager Phil Sutton says that a tax raise may be needed.

Commissioner Bruce Palmer explained his concerns that an hourly wage increase may be a “short term fix,” in bringing in employees and giving employees the resources they need. Terrell and Palmer discussed their hope to introduce more benefits to employees of the Sheriff’s Department next year. Currently, the Habersham County Sheriff’s Department employs around 90 individuals.

Commissioner Bruce Harkness made the motion to raise hourly pay, and Palmer seconded. The vote passed 4-0 and was met with applause.

Watch the full commission meeting here.

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