IW supervisors vote themselves raises, effective in 2024

Published 4:15 pm Friday, April 21, 2023

Isle of Wight County supervisors voted 3-2 on April 20 to increase their own pay, effective in 2024.

Supervisor Dick Grice had proposed in February to increase supervisor salaries 8.9% to $12,800. Supervisors William McCarty, Don Rosie and Grice each supported the raise, while supervisors Joel Acree and Rudolph Jefferson voted against it.

A 1998 state law set a maximum $7,000 salary for supervisors of counties with $25,000 to 49,999 residents, but allowed raises of up to 5% annually for inflation.

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Isle of Wight, which had an estimated population of just over 40,000 according to 2022 census data, adopted an ordinance in 2008 raising the minimum salary 5% to $11,402.26.

County Attorney Bobby Jones, in February, said the salary was again raised at some point during the past 15 years by roughly 3% to the current $11,744. A separate state law last revised in 2022 allows for supervisor raises in excess of 5% if the supervisors hold a public hearing and vote prior to July 1, with the raises then taking effect Jan. 1 following a year when at least two board of supervisors seats, or 40% of its membership, are up for election.

Three of Isle of Wight’s five seats are up for election this year, making the raises effective Jan. 1, 2024.

A provision of the 2008 ordinance the supervisors voted to retain allows the board’s chairman and vice chairman to receive an additional $1,800 and $1,200, respectively. As such, the chair will receive $14,600 and the vice chairman, $14,000, starting Jan. 1.

Grice’s seat is among the three available, though he says he plans not to run for reelection, and therefore wouldn’t be in office come January to receive the raise himself.

The required hearing drew two speakers, both in support of the raises.

Christopher Cavallo, a resident of Virginia Beach with ties to the county, contended a higher rate of pay would incentivize elected officials to “do the right thing more often.”

“I know you all do it for public service; you don’t do it for the money,” said Volpe Boykin of Carrsville. 

Boykin, however, estimated board members are “probably working 30 hours a week,” including calls from constituents, board meetings and attending local and regional committee meetings.

“I want to have good leadership in the future,” Boykin said. “We need to pay something better.”

McCarty, Acree and Jefferson each said that when they first ran for their seats, they were unaware of the stipend. McCarty, who’s this year’s chairman, and Acree, this year’s vice chairman, are also up for reelection this year, the results of which will determine whether they or their successors receive the raise.

“The real reward is in serving the community,” said Supervisor Don Rosie, who described the payment as “a very small stipend for what we do.”

Increasing the stipend, Rosie contended, could help some of the county’s less wealthy residents be able to afford the costs of serving in local elected office, stating he’d like to see the board “open to every man or woman who wants to come.”

Grice contended the new rate, spread over the time commitment expected of board members, would equate to roughly $9 per hour. Virginia’s minimum wage, by comparison, is $12 per hour.

Jefferson said he would have preferred the supervisors’ raise to match what the county gives its employees each year. The county’s proposed 2023-24 budget includes a 4% general wage increase for full-time employees, plus a one-time payment of $1,000, and a 5% raise for part-time employees.

With the new rate now having replaced the 2008 ordinance, the next opportunity for the supervisors to modify their rate of pay will come in 2025 when Jefferson’s and Rosie’s seats are up for election.