Cherokee Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Shepherd Howell submitted a request to the Georgia General Assembly earlier this month asking for a raise for all four superior court judges within the circuit. The circuit serves Gordon and Bartow Counties.
Howell requested that the annual supplement be increased from $20,000 to $32,300, according to a letter submitted by the judge to the Gordon County Board of Commissioners.
Gordon County taxpayers would be responsible for 35.5 percent of the $12,000 increase. Bartow County, which has the larger population, would cover some 64.5 percent of the cost of the pay increase. Currently, Bartow County pays 63 percent and Gordon County pays 37 percent, according to documents submitted by Howell.
Gordon County Commissioners have no power to approve or deny the request, because it is ultimately up to the Georgia General Assembly to pass the measure, according to Gordon County Manager Randy Dowling. Commissioners, did, however, support the measure and passed along their support to the state, Dowling said. In general, Dowling said, the state approves requests that have the backing of local governments.
In his letter to the state, Howell cited increased caseloads and the lack of a wage increase since 2002 as the reasons for seeking the raise.
If approved, the measure would go into effect on July 1 of this year, according to Dowling. Neither Howell nor Rep. John Meadows could be reached for comment at press time.
In addition to the judges seeking a pay increase, Gordon County Coroner James Carver is seeking a raise as well, according to Dowling. Dowling said Carver would like a raise from $1,000 per month to $2,000. Carver’s raise will have to be approved by the state as well, Dowling said. Commissioners will consider writing a letter of support for Carver during their Feb. 5 meeting, according to Dowling.