The County Commission voted 8-0 on Wednesday to deny longevity pay for Magistrate Larry Ables. Commissioner Fred Skillern is recuperating from back surgery and was absent.
Magistrate Ables, when he recently was replaced as chief magistrate by Randy Russell, requested longevity pay based on his higher pay in the chief position.
Chairman Larry Henry said that brought on a discussion of whether the magistrates are even entitled to longevity pay.
County employees get longevity pay after five years of service under the county handbook.
Mr. Ables recently completed five years as a magistrate.
However, Commissioner Joe Graham said the magistrates operate on a year-to-year basis. He said, "I don't see how anybody can build up any longevity pay if it's year to year. They are on a contract for a year, then they continue if they can get enough votes for a new contract."
Chairman Henry said the commission had never dealt with the longevity issue for magistrates and needed to make a ruling.
County Attorney Rheubin Taylor said compensation of the magistrates is under the purview of the commission and they are not under the county employee handbook.
Magistrates make $61,443 per year, and the chief gets $66,443.
Commissioner Greg Beck said the request by Magistrate Ables had raised a number of questions about the magistrate program.
He said, "I am beginning to think of the workability of the program. We have got a lot of judges over there and a lot of time."
He added, "I think we can start taking a look at the possibilities for the future."
There are four magistrates, who set bonds and sign warrants at the county jail. Their main focus is nights and weekends.