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Opinion | Pay raises aren’t just bad public policy – they are a bad idea | Otis Sanford

ABC 24 Political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shared his point of view on pay increases for Shelby County’s mayor and sheriff.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There is no gentle way to say this, so I’ll just be blunt. Shelby County Commissioners need to put to rest any notion of gargantuan pay increases for the positions of county mayor and sheriff.

The proposal to raise the pay by 21% for each position is being pushed by commissioners Edmund Ford Jr. and Eddie Jones. They were the only two who voted for it Monday during the first of the three required votes. Commissioners Tami Sawyer and Michael Whaley voted no, and seven others abstained.

County Mayor Lee Harris currently makes $173,000 annually and Sheriff Bonner is paid nearly $165,000. Both men are expected to seek reelection next year – and if the pay raises are ultimately approved, they would take effect next September after the August county general election.

But this is not personal to Harris and Bonner. These pay raises represent not just bad public policy – they are simply a bad idea. Ford’s argument that the sheriff’s salary should match those of counterparts in Davidson and Knox County means nothing to people struggling from the economic effects of the pandemic – unable to pay rent or even put decent food on the table. In other words, Ford doesn’t get it.

The final vote on the raises is set for Dec. 20. But if Ford and Jones really care about the people they were elected serve, they will drop the proposal now.

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