HED:Raises must be voted on again

CATEGORY: SUP Lee Board of SupervisorsMOULDE

HED:Raises must be voted on again

By Philip Moulden

Daily Journal

Lee County supervisors will have to vote again on their $4,871 pay raise if they want to get it in the coming fiscal year.

The vote is expected to come in the supervisors’ Sept. 29 meeting, and board members said Thursday they intend to repeat their affirmative votes.

If they do, their pay will rise from $32,472 to $37,343 a year.

County officials said another vote was required because supervisors voted too soon to adopt raises authorized by this year’s state Legislature.

All five supervisors voted to accept the raises on July 7, according to notes maintained by the board’s clerk. But the U.S. Justice Department did not preclear the authorizing state legislation, a requirement of the 1965 federal Voting Rights Act, until Sept. 5.

Also no resolution stemming from the board’s July vote was entered on the minutes as required by the state law authorizing the increases.

Board attorney Bill Beasley said the county’s approval could not precede the Justice Department’s approval.

“There was never a resolution in the books,” he said. “After I looked at it … the (July) vote was ineffective. There has to be a new resolution passed.”

Last week, supervisors approved a 1997-98 budget that included funds for the raises. The budget takes effect Oct. 1.

Various other county officials, including the sheriff, the tax assessor and collector, and Justice Court judges also were granted raises by the Legislature, but no local authorization was required.

Lee supervisors said they should have been accorded the same consideration by lawmakers.

“They (legislators) could have just given it to us like that did everybody else,” Davis said.

District 3 Supervisor Charles Duke said he had received no complaints from constituents after news reports of the raise.

“I haven’t had one call,” Duke said. “A few people joked about it, but nobody complained.”

Davis also noted that published reaction showed few residents objected to the raises. Supervisors had not received a pay increase for almost five years and the latest increase amounted to only about 3 percent a year over that period, he said.