The County Commission has approved a sizable pay raise for its four magistrates, taking them from the current $66,000 per year to $92,000 by 2021.
The raises will take effect beginning with new terms for magistrates. Two of the current magistrates are up for re-appointment in May. Their pay level will become $80,000. It will rise by $4,000 per year until reaching the $92,000.
The chief magistrate currently receives an additional $5,000. Under the resolution that was passed, the chief magistrate will receive an additional $9,200. Randy Russell is the chief magistrate.
Other magistrates are Andrew Basler, Ron Powers and Brandy Spurgin-Floyd.
The pay of "on call" magistrates will be $40 per hour.
The magistrates set bonds and sign warrants from a small office at the booking area at the county jail.
The magistrates currently get annual cost of living increases when other county employees do. Those will go away during the next few years while the salary is being raised to $92,000. It will begin again when that level is reached.
An amendment by Commissioner Sabrena Smedley to go to $72,486 instead of $80,000 did not pass.
Voting in favor of the $80,000 level were Commissioners Smedley, Chester Bankston, Greg Beck, Tim Boyd, Warren Mackey and Chairman Randy Fairbanks. Opposed were Joe Graham, Jim Fields and Greg Martin.
Those opposed said employee pay increases should be considered at budget time and said the need for raises for other employees should be considered - not just the magistrates.
Alecia Poe, who oversees personnel, said a recent pay evaluation found the magistrates four levels below the recommended level.
She said a number of other county employees are also below minimum recommended levels. In some cases, she said, the county has trouble finding applicants for a job.
Commissioner Fields said the commission has never had trouble finding applicants for the magistrate positions.
The magistrates each get one-year contracts.
The appointments are staggered with two coming up at a time.