Several county employees got pay increase due to legislation

Published 7:00 am Thursday, January 16, 2020

Raises for county officials that were passed by Mississippi’s Legislature in 2019 went into effect Jan. 1.

The cap on salaries for circuit and chancery clerks increased from $90,000 to $94,500. The circuit and chancery clerk salaries are paid from fees collected by their offices. Previously, fees collected over $90,000 had to be returned to the county’s general fund, but now they can retain up to $94,500 before returning fees to the county. The fees collected by each office already exceeded $94,500, said County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin, and will cover the $4,500 pay increase.

Unlike other county officials, the Board of Supervisors has to vote to accept their own pay raise, which the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors has not done. All other raises for county officials automatically went into effect at the start of this year. Had the Board voted to give themselves a raise, it would have been for approximately $1,400, said Lumpkin. For Pearl River County Supervisors, the pay raise would bring their total compensation to $46,041 annually, based on the county’s total assessed valuation.

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Previously the pay range for supervisors was between $29,000 and $46,700 but the bill increased that range from $29,870 to $48,101. The Board can still decide to accept the pay raise at a later date, Lumpkin said. District III Supervisor Hudson Holliday said he did not know the details of the pay increases, because the Board has not discussed increasing their salaries and is not interested in doing so.

The Legislature did not pass any raises for sheriffs because the salary for sheriffs increased several years ago, Lumpkin said.

Previously, tax assessors and collectors could earn between $41,500 and $64,000 depending on the county’s assessed valuation. Pearl River County’s assessed valuation of $384,386,459 means the tax assessor and collector can earn $58,800 in the new pay range from $50,929 to $70,560. Tax assessors or collectors are paid additional money based on certifications they acquire, said Lumpkin. When one person fills both the tax assessor and collector roles in a county’s tax office, such as Gary Beech does for Pearl River County, that person receives an additional $5,000 annually. The tax assessor/collector in Pearl River County is paid $88,300 annually, said Lumpkin. The tax assessor/collector can receive additional income for collections under contracts, said Lumpkin. The only increase in pay was the approximately $2,800 increase from the new pay range.

The county coroner is able to receive a range from $300 to $1,250 per month from the county. Previously the pay range was $100 to $900 per month from the county. In Pearl River County the coroner was paid $900 but will now be paid $1,250 monthly, said Lumpkin. The fee coroners or their deputies receive for completing an investigation of death report increased from $125 to $175. In the past, deputy coroners only received the $125 fee, but the legislation means deputies are now mandated a minimum of $300 in monthly salary, said Lumpkin.

The state sets the salaries of elected officials, but county employees have their pay set by the Board of Supervisors through the budgeting process, said Lumpkin.