Compensation for Countywide Elected Officials
There are specific statutes regarding compensation for each office.
In general, statutes prescribe salaries according to county population classes for many officials. The General Assembly has established 17 population classes for the purpose of determining the compensation of county officers. T.C.A. § 8-24-102 provides base minimum salary schedules for three categories of county officers:
(1) "general officers," which include assessors of property, county clerks, clerks of court, trustees, and registers of deeds;
(2) sheriffs and chief administrative officers of highway departments; and
(3) county mayors.
These specified minimum salaries cannot be raised or lowered except through subsequent legislation, but since they are minimum salaries, the actual salary may be increased by resolution of the county legislative body, but the class of general officers must all receive the same amount of any increase.
The minimum salaries are adjusted annually on July 1 by a dollar amount equal to the average annualized increase in state employees' compensation during the prior fiscal year multiplied by the compensation established for the county officials of the county with the median population of all counties. Why? It could be because these officials are directed by statutes and specific duties prescribed by state law. it also tends to remove local politics from salaries. The adjustment cannot exceed 5 percent in any year; provided, however, the annual percentage increase in the minimum compensation of county officials shall not be less than the percentage increase established for county officials of the county with the median population of all counties.
The average annualized general increase in state employees' compensation is used for the purposes of calculating the adjustment in salary for county officials.
What this means is the average increase in base salary plus the equivalent percentage increase represented by appropriated funds made available to address classification compensation issues, plus the equivalent percentage increase represented by recurring appropriation amounts provided to improve the level of retirement benefits, longevity benefits, deferred compensation benefits and other similar benefits (not including health insurance benefits) sets the percentage increase the county general officers will receive. These adjustments are calculated and certified by May 1 of each year by the commissioner of finance and administration. T.C.A. § 8-24-102.