Supervisors' salaries bone of contention
Feb. 4, 2001
A case it remains to be seen how strong is being made in the state Capitol that county supervisors in Mississippi, like school teachers, deserve a pay raise. But unlike some proposals for public school teachers, supervisors' salaries are tied to only one performance standard:
School teachers will get a pay raise this year, even though the state will not achieve the 5 percent growth rate that would automatically trigger the increases. Legislators are simply not in the mood to take any more heat in this, the first, of a multi-year plan to raise teacher pay to the Southeastern average.
The 5 percent trigger remains a source of irritation between Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck. It was Tuck's provision, inserted into a Musgrove-backed teacher pay bill last year, which tied automatic raises to economic growth. The provision made good sense then and still does. There is nothing inherently wrong with legislators having to vote on teacher pay, particularly in times of economic stress.
As this Legislature has discovered, Mississippi's economy is faltering. Tax revenues are not coming in as projected. Signs of a budget in crisis on the Musgrove watch are mounting.
Community colleges and four-year institutions have been forced into severe budget cuts. State agencies are paring back. Even the sacrosanct 85 percent rule which keeps virtually all convicted felons in jail for at least 85 percent of their sentence is coming under review because the state simply cannot afford to build new beds for prisoners in already overcrowded prisons and county jails.
Here in Lauderdale County, members of the board of supervisors are paid an annual salary of $37,343 for a job defined as part-time. This means they are free to pursue other business interests, but, in fact, they would probably argue they spend many more hours on the job than a typical part-timer.
And yet, this time of a weak state economy is no time for county supervisors to get a raise.
Sounds like a full plate, worthy of attention and a renewed resolution to solve the problems. Sounds like a job worth about $37,343 per year.