Arp's Pay Raise Explained

Wow, I never imagined just what a reaction the story on Doyle Arp's $8,700 pay raise would generate. It's obvious the idea of Arp siphoning off thousands more of the tax payers money at a time when other county departments are looking to make cuts, really struck a nerve with the public and county employees. Especially given that the commission is about to raise our taxes. Given the overwhelming response to the story, I feel it incumbent on myself to explain how he engineered such a massive raise for himself while others may go without.

So here's how he did it. I'll try to keep it as short and simple as possible. Compensation for most county officials is governed by T.C.A. 8-24-102, which establishes the minimum compensation for county officials based on the county population. Loudon County is a class 4 county, populations 35,000-49,999.

The statute states that the county mayor's compensation shall be at least five (5) percent higher than the salary paid to any other county constitutional officer. These salaries are adjusted each year based on state raises. The 2008-2009 salary rate for the sheriff and the highway commissioner are the highest paid county constitutional officers. Their salaries for 08-09 have been set by the state at $70,350.00. That should put Arp's salary at $73,867.00 not $84,368.00.

However, the budget committee, which Arp is the chairman, has recommended an additional $10,000.00 salary supplement for highway commissioner, Sean Giles, making his total salary with supplement, $80,350.00. If you add 5% on top of that you get Arp's dream salary.

I have no idea why the budget committee has recommended the $10,000 salary supplement for the highway commissioner but that is how Arp justifies his raise. The sheriff received no supplement. In fact, if the commission adopts the recommended budget, the highway commissioner for the first time in the county's history will be making more than the sheriff, $4,500.00 more. Surprisingly, at least some of the budget committee members were unaware of the $10,000.00 raise for Giles or the $8,700.00 raise for Arp even though the documents state Budget Committee Recommendations.  

This is the short answer to how Arp has manipulated the system to put more money in his own pocket. For those of you who want even more detail read on. If you've heard enough, stop here.

Let me predict the future. If anyone has the nerve to call Arp's hand on sly little money trick, let me go ahead and tell you what he will say. He will say he has no choice but to take the raise. He has to do what the law says. Kudos for Mr. Arp for being such a law abiding elected official. He will go on to say that the $10,000.00 salary supplement is actually a fee paid to the road commissioner as an engineer fee that the law requires. This is a page right out of the old play book. There is an old antiquated law that states that a county is to have a highway engineer. This goes back to when counties had highway districts and a highway commissioner for each district. Those days are long gone for Loudon County. But for many many years, former road commissioner Don Palmer continued to receive a $5.000.00 per year engineer fee. This $5,000.00 was included in his pay to bring his salary up to the state requirement. In 2005, this engineering fee was eliminated by the commission and Palmer's salary was reflected at the full state mandate. Mysteriously the fee/supplement returned to the road supervisor's budget, last year at $5,000.00 now this year $10,000.00. Incidentally, state law states that counties are also required to have a county land surveyor and a county historian. Haven't seen Arp rushing out to follow those laws.

Now for those of you who are real info junkies, there's even more to this sorted story. For more than thirty years, the sheriff and the county mayor have been paid additional money neither were entitled to. State law states that the sheriff of a county is entitled to an additional 5% in pay if their jail is a workhouse. I think it was in 1976 that the county commission passed a resolution to make the Loudon County jail a workhouse. However the plan never came to pass and the jail never became a workhouse. Yet the former sheriff continued to receive the additional 5% extra pay. After Guider was elected the 5% pay supplement was continued. As you will remember, state law requires that the county mayor is to make 5% more than the highest paid county constitutional officer which until this year has always been the sheriff. So, for all these years the sheriff was getting an extra 5% in pay which automatically gave the county mayor an extra 5%.

Whew, that's a lot of info but that's how it works. You know, what puzzles me? Why did Arp choose the road commissioner to give the extra 10g to instead of the sheriff? Humm.  Wonder how long it will be before all the other elected officials will be demanding their own 10g supplement? Watch for it.

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5/22/08