WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. -

Lieutenant Greg Matherly with the Washington County Tennessee?s Sheriff?s Department became a county commissioner in 1998. He, like the other 24 county commissioners, was paid $375 dollars per month.

He started earning an extra $50 every month last August when the county mayor stepped aside as the commission chairman. Vice Chairman Matherly stepped up and was then elected as chairman in September. He was the first non-mayor chairman in more than 20 years. "It's a big job,? Matherly said. ?A lot of it is performed during the day and a lot at night in meetings and serving on the committees."

Matherly said the county mayor suggested his monthly pay be increased ten-fold from $50 to $500 per month. "I think the mayor recognized how big of a job it is when he was chairman,? he said.

The budget committee seemed to agree. They voted on Wednesday in favor doubling Matherly's pay. "I think it's a fair number. Some people have said you deserve more, some people say that's a fair number," Matherly said.

He said it?s a fair number for working about 20 to 30 hours every week on committees, compiling minutes, and preparing the 400-500 pages agenda for the monthly commission meeting. Matherly said some times the work load and his schedule are so busy, he has to take a vacation day from the Sheriff?s Department because he has meetings with people like the county mayor or county attorney. "I may have to leave at two or three o'clock and I wouldn't return back to the sheriff?s office,? he explained. ?I would take vacation time in those situations where I'm not coming back to work."

It?s work that is new to Matherly and a pay scale that is new to the county commissioners. "It?s a whole new ball game now that we're asking the chairman now to do,? said County Commissioner Pat Wolfe. ?If we're going to ask a commissioner to do this type of job, then we need to compensate them accordingly."

At their next meeting on May 29, the full commission will vote on Matherly?s pay increase. He said if it is approved, it means more than money. "This is a really good evaluation of how I?ve done. What do they feel? If I deserve five hundred a month they'll let me know. Or if they think I deserve less we'll find out at the next meeting,? he said.

Wolfe said if the pay increase is approved, it will be the same for whoever is the chairman after the next election in September.