Proposed County Budget Includes Pay Raises for County Commissioners

July 23, 2010
Dwayne Page
Mike Foster

County commissioners may be getting a pay raise with the passage of the new county budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year that they themselves will be voting on next month.

The county's budget committee is recommending that the pay for each county commissioner be increased from $75 to $150 per regular meeting. The commissioners meet once per month in regular session for a total of twelve regular meetings per year. Under this proposal, each of the fourteen county commissioner's pay to attend regular meetings would increase from $900 to $1,800 per calendar year.

County commissioners are not to receive pay for any meetings they miss.

In addition to the pay hike for regular meetings, the budget committee is proposing that county commissioners who meet in committee receive a $35 increase in pay, going from the current $40 per meeting to $75 per meeting.

County Mayor Mike Foster says under state law, pay to each member for committee meetings must be at least half of what is paid to them for regular meetings.

Foster says he anticipates fewer committee meetings in the future now that the entire county commission usually meets once a month, a few days prior to the regular meeting, in an "ALL committee's meeting". "We also put in there (budget) if you come to an ‘ALL committee's meeting' you'll only be paid for one committee (meeting) even though you may serve on as many as six committees."

According to Foster, these proposed pay raises are to cover expenses of commissioners, going to and from meetings. "Some of the commissioners travel to and from here about thirty five to forty miles at times. We'll have one (member) now who will be traveling eighty miles. It's been put in there (budget) just to help cover their costs of coming to the meetings."

Foster added that commissioners would not be paid for attending ‘workshops'. "The ones (meetings) where they come and we talk for maybe three hours about taking something (an issue) to the full commission. That would be a committee meeting (where members would be paid). But if they're having a training session or an informational meeting or something like that, it would be a work session."

According to Foster, the rate of pay the county commissioners receive here is still much lower, even with the proposed increases, compared to many other counties. He says some counties pay their county commissioners as much as $400 per month.

Foster says the proposed pay hikes would take effect, September 1st if the budget is approved in August.

Meanwhile, the county budget committee has proposed giving full time county employees a $400 pay raise in the new budget for the year.

The county commission is expected to act on the proposed new budget during the August regular meeting, which has been rescheduled from August 23rd to August 10th at 6:30 p.m. at the courthouse.

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