Lamar Co. supervisors, justices and attorneys get pay raise

Members of the Lamar County Board of Supervisors, all Lamar County Court Judges and Council Attorney Perry Phillips have won annual pay raises as set out in a new bill and update. update of two sections of the Mississippi code, respectively.

Effective July 1, those salaries will increase from about $46,000 a year to $50,000, a move that was approved at the June 23 board meeting. The supervisor pay increase comes from Senate Bill 2719, which was approved in the 2022 session of the Mississippi Legislature and amends Section 25-3-13 of the Mississippi Code of 1972.

“This is consistent with the new law update,” said Lamar County Administrator Jody Waits. “Supervisors are paid according to the ad valorem amount in the county, so in this bill they adjusted the amount that supervisors were paid in (each of the given categories).

“So we’re the ones taking action to align the supervisory board’s salary with the Senate bill and updating that section of the code.” (Judges and the county attorney) follow suit, as they are paid the same as supervisors, according to these statutes.

Lamar County has a total valuation of at least $300 million, but less than $1 billion, which allows annual salaries to be pegged at a maximum of $50,000.

Also according to Senate Bill 2719, effective January 1, 2024, the salary of supervisors may be increased by an amount not to exceed $2,000. Effective January 1, 2028, supervisor salaries may be increased by an amount not to exceed $4,000.

If the board of supervisors approves a salary increase under the current bill during a fiscal year, members of that board are not eligible for further salary increases for that fiscal year. The salary of board members shall not be increased under this paragraph during the last year of the term of office of supervisors.

The annual salary established for the members of the Supervisory Board cannot be reduced following a reduction in the total evaluation. Under this bill, the salary of the members of the supervisory board can only be increased after the adoption by the board of a resolution indicating the amount of the increase and showing it in its minutes.

No state revenue shall be used to pay for a salary increase authorized under this article. Although supervisors’ salaries are paid for by taxes collected from Lamar County residents and not by the state, the pay scale is set by state law. Any salary increase must be reflected in the minutes of the board meeting at which it is approved.

“This (Senate Bill 2719) goes further by saying that there are two other occasions when an increase is permitted by this law, up to a certain amount,” Waits said. “These next two increases allowed in this bill, the board is not voting that for the next board; it is set up so that the board would have to vote on it for its own term.

“The next increase would be in 2024, so the outgoing board is not voting on that – the new board would be voting on that increase. Then the next increase is available in 2028, and the council in that term would vote on it, so it’s not one council voting on an increase for another – it’s the other way around. This first increase is granted by law, and the second and third increases (are for one) amount on which the Board of Directors must vote.

The raise for Lamar County Court Justices is permitted in Mississippi Code 25-3-36, while the raise for council counsel is outlined in Mississippi Code 19-3- 47.

Waits said he fully supports annual salary increases.

“(Supervisors) have a very big responsibility in what they do; they are the taxing authority and they set all the policy for the county,” he said. “It’s a pretty big part of what they do – it affects a lot of people and they work really hard. It’s a job that really never stops; it’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

“Throughout their tenure, they receive phone calls and deal with issues related to the health and welfare of all citizens of the county. They’ve been working without a raise for a while, and even still, with those raises, it’s still not a big payday for the responsibility that comes with what they do.

Additionally, Waits believes the pay raise will help attract quality candidates to lead the county.

“It would encourage people who want to be elected to this position, rather than discourage them because of the amount of responsibility versus what they pay that comes with it,” he said.

William M. Mayer