Commissioners to vote on their planned pay cut

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A 30 percent pay cut for Marshall County commissioners is to be considered by the 18-member commission on Monday.

A resolution to that effect is to be presented by Commissioner Mickey King, chairman of the Budget Committee, when the County Commission meets at 6 p.m. in the Courthouse Annex on Lewisburg's public square.

King's resolution notes that county residents "are experiencing an economic downturn," and the budget committee has asked "all county department heads to try to cut their budgets by 10-15 percent to help ease the burden on Marshall County taxpayers."

Commissioners are, therefore, to "show their participation in this difficult economic time" and be willing to "accept a cut in their pay by 30 percent effective July 1 and ending June 30, 2010."

In December, Commissioner Don Ledford suggested a 10 percent cut in commissioners' pay. That would represent a reduction in county spending of about $7,100 annually. The 30 percent cut would, therefore, be a savings of $21,300.

Commissioners greatly increased their pay in 2007, but it was through an effort to equalize what commissioners were paid. Before then, pay was calculated on a per meeting basis.

The current funding formula is based on the salary set by the state for county mayors. That formula is based on population.

The amount budgeted for commissioners' pay during 2006-07 was $30,600. The amount budgeted for the fiscal year that ended on June 31, 2008, was nearly $68,000, or more specifically, the amount paid to County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett because of a state formula setting his annual salary at $67,997 in July last year.

Before then, commissioners were paid $50 for each monthly commission meeting and $25 for each committee meeting. It was an old system used elsewhere and perceived as unfair because some commissioners were assigned to more committees than others, and while they might be paid more for more meetings, they were paid for the monthly commission meeting whether they attended or not.

That changed with the new system including "Rule 9" on compensation which says, "Each commissioner will receive 1/18th of the county mayor's salary..."

Because of the state law that set the mayor's salary at $68,000, the commissioners could receive up to $3,777 per year, or about $315 per month. But that was the county mayor's salary for 2007-08. During this current fiscal year it's $71,322, reflecting a 5 percent pay raise, or $3,325 more than the previous year's salary.