Legislative acts to increase pay of local officials

Published 11:27 am Wednesday, March 12, 2014

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

Two bills to be enacted by the State Legislature and being advertised in the Lowndes Signal will affect the pay of the probate judge and sheriff.

One provides an additional expense and allowance and salary for the sheriff and one increases the pay of an incumbent judge of probate on his 17th year in office.

The bill for the sheriff gives the sheriff an additional expense allowance of $10,000 per year payable in equal monthly installments from the general fund of the county. And beginning with the end of the current sheriff’s term, the annual salary for sheriff will be increased by $10,000 per year.

The bill for the probate judge states that beginning with the 17th year in office, the annual compensation paid to the judge of probate will be equal to 90 percent the annual salary paid by the state to the district court judge in Lowndes County.

Both acts become effective the first day of the third month following their passage and approval by the governor. The bills are advertised in The Lowndes Signal for Feb. 27, March 6, 13 and 20th.

Both Sheriff John Williams and Probate Judge John E. Hulett declined to comment on the acts.

State Rep. David Colston, who introduced the bill for the probate judge, said that it has been done for other probate judges in the state. He said it was his understanding that there was supposed to be a statewide bill.

Colston said he gets approval from the county commission to introduce a bill. “The judge got that bill through the county commission and a majority had approved of it,” Colston said. He said, “It is something that was probably needed. Dallas County did it, Marengo County did it, Macon County did it.”

Lowndes County Commission Administrator Jackie Thomas said, “The one for the sheriff, I asked the commission about and that was because when he (John Williams) became sheriff, his salary was actually reduced.”

She explained a bill for the previous sheriff that provided the additional allowance died and was no longer in effect when Williams took office.

“We had to end up reducing his salary…,” Thomas said. “So, all this is doing is restoring what he should have had in the first place.”

Thomas confirmed that the Lowndes County Commission is paying to advertise both bills.

Thomas said the bill for Williams was introduced by State Sen. Hank Sanders.