Lee County leader passes on the pay - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lee County leader passes on the pay

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January 10, 2007

Lee County--  It's a simple idea but what some would call an extraordinary gesture of generosity. In this age of corporate greed and getting ahead at all costs, one south Georgia boss is making a unique sacrifice to take a stand for her employees.

Budget problems have prevented most Lee County employees from getting a raise in quite a while.   One county leader wants to use her windfall to make up for that shortfall.

State law mandates minimum salaries for constitutional officers. Because of that rule, Lee County Tax Commissioner Betty Johnson got a big raise recently. But she'd rather pass her pay hike on to the other people in her office.

You could call it a possible treat for tax and tag employees in Lee County. "I just wanted to tell them 'job well done'," said Lee County Tax Commissioner Betty Johnson.

Lee County Tax Commissioner Betty Johnson recently received what she calls a substantial raise from the government. "About a 17 percent increase," said Johnson. So she now wants to pass that percentage on to her six employees in the office. She says they deserve it, especially after not receiving a raise in some time.

"If I can't give them a little token of my appreciation, you know there's really nothing they can get," said Johnson.

Norma Smith has been in the business for several years now. "A long time. Since '87 I've been in the tax field," said Smith. And while she counts up checks, she says customer service isn't always the easiest.

"Very busy. Everyone's different. No one is ever the same although you would think they would be," said Smith. So who would think her boss would be the one to repay her for her service to the community?

"She's willing to share her pay raise with us and we think that's a wonderful idea," said Smith. Of course she welcomes it.  In fact, employees have already worked out the details.

"I took a vote and asked if they prefer it hourly or a lump sum and the majority won a lump sum," said Johnson.

"I think they take out maybe less taxes," said Smith.

These ladies would know all about taxes. "Nobody has a clue what we do, what we go through," said Johnson.

And Johnson also knows something else.  If she gets it her way, this gesture will add up to more than taxes and tags.

"How would it make me feel?," asked Johnson, "wonderful!  It really would." It's a feeling she wants to pass on to her employees.

The money would be split between the employees based on years of service and responsibility. Johnson says if county employees aren't given a raise this year, she'll most likely do the same thing again next year. 

She says she doesn't want praise.  She just wants to pass it on. Johnson plans to address the county commission regarding her plan at their next meeting.  She feels they'll be supportive of her gesture.   

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