Gwinnett County law enforcement officers — and many of its other employees — are getting raises.
With a resolution added at the last minute to the agenda of its Tuesday night meeting, Gwinnett's Board of Commissioners approved the long-talked-about pay increase for sworn employees of the Gwinnett County Police Department, Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office and Gwinnett County Department of Corrections, as well as the county's 911 communications office.
All of those employees will receive a 4 percent pay bump — in addition to the 3 percent “market adjustment” that will be offered both to them and to eligible employees throughout other county departments.
Tuesday night’s resolution adjusted the county’s 2017 budget to enable the increases to go into effect for the pay period that begins Nov. 4.
“County employees went without a pay raise for four years during the recession,” Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash said in a statement released after the meeting.
“While this Board was able to reinstate increases starting in 2014 with a market adjustment and each year thereafter with annual raises tied to performance, a further adjustment is needed to address hiring and retention issues. Our competitors are granting pay increases, too, and, frankly, we have to keep up or risk losing talented employees to other agencies.”
That loss of employees has hit Gwinnett’s police department particularly hard in the last several years, though attrition issues appear to be improving thanks a number of recent initiatives.
A year ago, GCPD had 105 vacancies. Earlier this month, Chief Butch Ayers said it had about 93.
That decrease was thanks in part to beefed up recruitment efforts and the creation of the new rank of master police officer (which came with a new paygrade), as well as pay differentials for officers working in specialized units.
Nash, the commission chairman, had previously hinted that 2018’s county budget would include larger-scale raises for law enforcement officers, offering that as part of the rationale for raising the county’s millage rate.
But Tuesday’s resolution came as a surprise.
“I feel good about the increases we approved tonight,” District 3 Commissioner Tommy Hunter said in a news release.
Tyler Estep is a reporter covering DeKalb County, its government and its people. A Gwinnett County native and University of Georgia graduate, he has been with the AJC since 2015. He previously covered his home county and served stints on the paper's hyperlocal and breaking news teams.