Keeping up with the Joneses

Story image for todays news on finance from Charleston Post Courier

The draft budget for Charleston County sets a 2 percent pay hike for “outstanding performance” by county employees. Imagine just how outstanding the performance of some key elected officials would be if viewed by that standard.

The county auditor’s salary, for example, is recommended for an increase of nearly 50 percent, from $81,244 to $120,243, according to budget figures provided by the county. And that’s not counting a state supplement of $19,395.

The coroner’s salary would advance from $90,916 to $124,060, and the treasurer’s from $98,737 to $124,131. The treasurer also receives a state supplement of $19,395.

Other hefty salary hikes would go to the clerk of court, $107,598 to $141,643, and to the register of mesne conveyance, $104,728 to $123,534. All of the officials are elected, and their compensation is set by County Council, which is expected to consider this and other budget matters in today’s Finance Committee meeting.

Those projected salary hikes recall this year’s pay increases for County Council, which went up by 44 percent (and 50 percent for the chairman), following a vote by council last year.

Like the council pay hikes, these latest proposed increases were recommended by a compensation study, comparing those local officials’ salaries to their counterparts elsewhere in the state. (Sort of like keeping up with the Joneses.)

Is that the only rationale on which these hefty salary increases are predicated? More generally, has such a review ever recommended anything but an increase?

“We’re going to vet it in public,” says council Chairman Elliott Summey.

No question, rank-and-file county employees are curious to know more. And maybe even the county taxpayers, too.