At a September 20 press conference, Del Mills vowed to donate his first-year salary – minus taxes and retirement – if he wins the Henry County Sheriff’s election against incumbent Sheriff Wayne Davis in November.
“I’d like to offer my first-year salary back to the community” if elected. “This is an investment in our community, and by working together, we can become stronger and more unified,” he said to the estimated 25 people at the event.
The salary is currently $136,820 – most of which is paid by the State Compensation Board, Henry County Sheriff Wayne Davis said.
As in most localities, the county supplements that total. In this case, Henry County contributes $23,147, according to Brandon Martin, the county’s communications officer.
As a man of Christian values and faith, Mills said the first 10 percent of his salary would be distributed to his church, Bassett Church of the Brethren. The other 90 percent would be shared with local charities and services.
“I’ll list a few, and I don’t want to be inclusive – adding and expanding to existing childcare, local food pantries such as the one you have here in Henry County, emergency services such as our fire and rescue, drug and alcohol treatment for those in our community with the need, mental health services, and elder care services,” he said.
Mills currently operates the Henry County Food Pantry located in the former Bassett Printing building.
Mills said his brother, David Mills, who would be named jail administrator, also plans to donate his first-year salary to the community.
The annual pay for that position is $86,707, Davis said.
“Our taxes and our retirement will come out of it, but our take-home pay is going to go back to the community,” Mills said.
Daryl Hatcher, who will serve as Mills’ chief deputy if Mills is elected, did not comment. Del Mills fielded a question about Hatcher donating his salary. Mills said that he and David had committed to donating their take-home pay.
Del Mills believes community input is going to be crucial in where this funding can go to meet the community’s needs.
“All or some will not see the correlation between each of these services and law enforcement. I want you to understand they are needed in our community, and our community is the core of the department,” he said.
By making this investment, Del Mills said he wants to encourage the community to work together to overcome obstacles and encourage everyone to give up their time, talents, and resources to make the community stronger.
“I want to be clear; this is an investment in our community. We’re passionate about our community, we want to help our community, and I want to encourage each and every one of you to give back,” Mills said.
“I work to serve this community and make it a better place to live, work, and raise our families. I have a young family, including an 8-year-old son to support,” Davis said. “My family and I live in a modest 900-square-foot home, and unfortunately, I don’t have the financial means to work for free.”
He speculated the Mills brothers “have other means of income and they don’t need a salary to sustain their family. In fact, both of them stand to have substantial financial gains simply by being elected because their retirement accounts” would “greatly increase.”
That is because the amount retirees earn is based on their highest salary for three years, Davis said and added that he and his wife invest in the community in other ways.
“We pay tithes and offerings to the church we have been members of for nearly a decade. We help to support a local childcare facility,” and regularly support fundraising efforts by volunteer fire, EMS, and civic organizations, Davis said.
“We are in discussions of ways to support drug rehabilitation efforts in this community” because drug use has “personally affected our family,” he added.