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The Hamilton County Commission, pictured last year, is hoping the Hamilton County legislative delegation will carry hopes of their ability to vote their own salary increase.

Nothing's been set in stone yet, but the Hamilton County Commission's approved resolution to the Hamilton County legislative delegation to change state law and allow members to set their own salary last month is likely to be the best or worst thing they ever did.

The commission now has a member of the House delegation, Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, who says he might sponsor the private act, and a senator, who has offered resolutions sponsored by the body before, looking into the legal ramifications before he signs on it.

One thing is certain. If the act is sponsored and approved and changes state law, members will be putting their seats on the line every time they vote themselves a raise.

In an era of stagnant wages, when some companies haven't given raises since 2008, the public may look askance at commissioners' actions when they get to the ballot box, depending on how often they vote to boost their pay and how much they vote to boost it.

This page has been clear that commissioners deserve more than their current salary of $21,368 in what for many is a full-time second job or full-time retirement job. But since they currently receive automatic raises when the county's mayor salary is increased, there seems little reason to change the law.

The change would allow them to vote to pay themselves what they believe they are worth.

If what they believe they're worth approximates what voters believe they're worth, all is good. If not, they may not have that full-time part-time job after the next election. And let's be clear: These fellows knew what the pay was when they ran for office.

However, before the act goes before the General Assembly, it must have members willing to carry it there. And Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, has concerns — as this page has similarly expressed — about a letter left in commission chambers asking for commissioners' signatures being the initial foray into the salary change.

He has asked for opinions from the state attorney general and the county attorney over his concerns, and we applaud that prudence.

If all is legal, the act goes to Nashville and is approved by lawmakers, we suggest commissioners don't make a down payment on a new yacht. Much as they might deserve more pay, voting it for themselves — instead of getting it automatically — may only be a ticket to retirement from the commission.

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