LAWRENCEVILLE -- Less than a year since a special election chose Gwinnett's newest Board of Commissioners chair, a local legislator is hoping a salary boost will help in the next election.
Rep. Billy Mitchell, D-Stone Mountain, said he intended to file local legislation to increase the chairman's salary from $50,000 to $150,000.
"The chairman of Gwinnett is woefully and inadequately compensated," said Mitchell, who lives in DeKalb but represents a portion of Gwinnett. "We want to attract the kind of leadership (Gwinnett) deserves."
The county's elected chairman's salary is well below that of neighboring locales. Several years ago, the county board voted to raise salaries for part-time commissioners, but then-Chairman Charles Bannister took the chairman's salary out of the proposal.
Mitchell said the county was fortunate to have "altruistic" leaders in the past, including Charlotte Nash, who was elected in March to replace Bannister. Nash, the former county administrator, has foregone pension payments so she would not receive a salary and a pension from Gwinnett.
But a higher salary would make the job more attractive to qualified citizens, he said.
"You have to have a professional wage," Mitchell said. "No wise businessman or citizen would say we should risk our property values and (quality of life)" for a less-qualified person, he said.
Nash did not comment on the proposal, which will be considered by legislators in the upcoming session, beginning in January.