Supervisors aren't the only elected officials getting raises

BY LEESHA FAULKNER

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Supervisors aren't the only county elected officials getting a pay raise from the Legislature this year.

“We're the only ones that have to accept the raise,” said Lee County Board of Supervisors President Bobby Smith of District 2. “The others get them automatically.”

Lee County supervisors will see their salaries increase from $37,342.92 to $44,700 per year after Oct. 1 when the county's new fiscal year begins.

It's the first raise in about eight years, Smith explained, and the supervisors voted to accept it.

A look through the records of Lee County show how other county elected officials fared this year, getting the automatic salary increases from the Legislature.

These figures won't hold for all counties. Most salaries for county officials statewide are based on a percentage of the value of property in that county.

However, state personnel officials figure that salary increases granted by the Legislature this year average 20 percent statewide.

Here are the salaries of selected elected officials:

- Sheriff Jim H. Johnson, from $65,000 to $78,000

- Justice Court judges, from $33,396 to $46,450.92

- Tax Collector Leroy Belk Jr., from $49,639 to $58,500 in salary. However, the percentage for collecting taxes for municipalities also adds to the tax collector's yearly income. This year, Belk received $850 for collecting Guntown's taxes and $9,927.84 for collecting Tupelo's taxes.

In the upcoming year, Belk will receive $850 for collecting Guntown's taxes, $24,989.37 for collecting Tupelo's taxes, $5,099.87 for collecting Saltillo's taxes and $3,506.16 for collecting Verona's taxes. That's a grand total of $92,945.40.

- Tax Assessor Mark Weathers, from $49,639 to $58,500 in salary. Similar to the tax collector, the tax assessor gets a percentage for keeping the books for cities. He also receives an education supplement.

The education supplement was $2,000 and remains the same for the upcoming year. This year, Weathers received $6,000 from Tupelo for keeping the city assessments. This year, Tupelo goes up to $16,659.58 and Saltillo comes on board at $1,699.96 and Verona adds another $1,168.72. That's a grand total of $80,028.26

Salary numbers for Chancery Clerk Bill Benson and Circuit Clerk Joyce Loftin aren't available because they work off a fee system and don't have a set yearly income. The fee system means they earn money based on lawsuits or papers filed in their offices.

Note: Most salaries for county officials statewide are based on a percentage of the value of property in that county. So, not all elected officials make the same from county to county. However, state financial officials figure that salary increases granted by the Legislature this year average 20 percent

Contact Leesha Faulkner at 678-1590 or leesha.faulkner@djournal.com