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Only two officials to take voluntary cuts

ALBANY, Ga. -- Two of the 13 county officials asked to voluntarily reduce their pay to bring them in line with cuts forced on other county workers have agreed to voluntarily reduce their pay by two percent.

In a historic move for Dougherty County, county leaders have approved nine unpaid holidays meant to help balance a budget suffering from a chronic shortage of revenues.

Those holidays translate into a 2 percent pay cut for county employees -- a cut that has been taken by county commissioners, County Administrator Richard Crowdis, County Attorney Spencer Lee and all county department heads other than constitutional officers and judges.

For those 13 people, the county is barred by the Georgia Constitution from lowering their pay thanks to a provision meant to help keep judges safe from possible retaliation from politicians who find themselves the subject of an unfavorable court decision.

So for those 13 judges and constitutional officers, Crowdis sent a letter asking them, given the current economic situation of the county, to voluntarily give up two percent of their pay as well.

As of the June 22 deadline, Sheriff Kevin Sproul and Judge Stephen Goss were the only two on the list to agree to take the cuts.

For Goss that means a l cut of $539 from his county supplement -- he receives his base salary from the state and a supplement from the county of $44.96 per month.

Sproul, who doesn't receive any part of his salary from the state, the cut translates into $1,782 or $68.53 per month.

In an interview from his office Thursday, Sproul said that it became evident back in February when the county's budget process started, that some type of furlough program was probably going to be needed.

"From the outset I decided that, no matter what the cut was going to be -- 5 percent or 2 percent -- I would take whatever my employees were going to have to take," Sproul said. "I'm one of them; they're one of me. We're a team here and we're all on the same boat."

For Sproul, the cuts hurt, especially given the fact that his wife is looking at as many as ten furlough days as a teacher. But he was also sensitive to those who haven't taken the cut, saying that for some its a personal decision with public dollars.

Goss, who was in court Thursday and had been sitting on a murder trial all week, has already voluntarily given up a portion of his state salary to be in line with the cuts and furloughs state judicial employees have had to endure.