/Pay raises for county supervisors, clerks pass Senate and House; fee increase for some services proposed

Pay raises for county supervisors, clerks pass Senate and House; fee increase for some services proposed

The proposal will be submitted to conference, where Senate and House negotiators will attempt to reach a final agreement in the closing days of session. Tax assessors, tax collectors, and coroners will also receive salary bumps. Other county officials like sheriffs will not be eligible for a raise as they have received one in recent years. However, many county officials have not received a raise from the Legislature since 2003. Derrick Surrette is the executive director of Mississippi Association of Supervisors. He stated that it was high time for a raise. “This raise will not take effect until January 1, 2020.” Before members receive the raise, each local board of supervisors must vote in favor. The increase for county offices is automatic. Some have complained on social media that the supervisors could be given a $10,000 per-year raise, while the pending legislation would only give teachers a $1,000 per-year raise. There is also the question of whether state employees will be given any extra pay, as many have not received a raise since 2007. Although the argument that teachers and state workers need higher raises or even some increase might be valid, there is at most one difference between what county officials could receive and what is being offered for teachers and possibly state employees. The state would pay for the teacher and state employee raises. The cost of the raises for local officials will be borne by each county. Rep. Manly Barrton, R. Moss Point, stated that the increase would cost each county approximately $70,000 annually. For a small county, the increase would be substantial. However, for a larger county it would be comparable to “a rounding error.” To pay for the raise, legislators are proposing increasing various fees. Circuit clerks’ offices will see a $75 increase in filing fees for land disputes. The cost of modifying a marriage certificate or birth certificate will go up from $35 to $85. The legislation is still in development and may change at any time. The fees they collect from various services such as filing property deeds and dealing with civil mental healthcare commitments, fund both the circuit and chancery clerk offices. The fees collected currently limit the salary of circuit and chancery clerks at $90,000. They must also pay their staff and other office expenses from the fees. The legislation allows for the annual increase in the salaries of clerks to up to $99,000. Barton stated that the fee schedule currently in place in many smaller counties does not generate sufficient revenue to cover all office expenses. Barton stated that he hoped the fee hike would cover all county expenses and, in some cases, result in enough money being returned into the general fund to pay for the salary increases. The salary increases for county officials were opposed by only two senators and 14 of the 122 members of the House. Chris McDaniel (Republican from Ellisville) voted against the proposal in the Senate. He stated that he was against increasing fees. He stated that he was not against salary increases but had a problem growing government. He stated that government is already inefficient and wasteful. Based on the county’s assessed property value, supervisors currently earn between $29,000 to $50,000. All supervisors could be eligible for a $10,000 raise under the legislation. Based on county’s assessed valuation, tax collectors and assessors currently make between $41,500 to $64,000. This would increase to $55,750 to $76,250. This session also proposes an increase in the price of a marriage licence from $21 to $35. House Ways and Means Chair Jeff Smith (R-Columbus) stated that the current fee is not sufficient to pay for the costs of issuing the circuit clerks’ licenses.