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Magistrates table talk of court raises

Discussion of a motion to nearly double magistrates’ salaries for the next term stalled to allow county officials to study the budget implications.

Wednesday morning, Magistrate Robert Blanton made a motion to increase the monthly salary and expense allowance to $750 and $300, respectively, effective on Jan. 1, 2019, when the new magistrates take office.

Currently, Clark County’s magistrates are paid $423.12 in salary and $150 in expenses per month, Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham said. The Fiscal Court members from 2010-14 were paid $843.91 monthly plus $300 for expenses, Branham said, but that court was three commissioners instead of six magistrates.

Blanton raised the issue because salaries for the next term must be approved by May 1.

The proposal, Blanton said, was based on information from the Kentucky Magistrates and Commissioners Associations which showed most magistrates were paid between $800 and $1,000 a month, he said.

Magistrate Pam Blackburn said she was all for increasing the expense allowance.

In conversations with magistrates from other counties, Magistrate Greg Elkins said Clark County’s rate was well below.

“I think we pay other positions the maximum that’s allowed,” he said. “I’ve had other magistrates ask me what we make and they laugh.”

Branham said he would vote against the raise until he could verify the impact to the county budget, and Magistrate Sheila McCord agreed.

“I know we’re about the lowest paid magistrates in the state,” she said. “I don’t do this for the money. I do it for love of the county.”

“This isn’t affecting us now,” Magistrate Daniel Konstantopoulos said. “It’s for the future court.”

While Blanton’s motion was seconded, Magistrate Joe Graham made a motion to table it until the next regular meeting to see how the raises would affect the budget.

That motion passed 4-3, with Blanton, Elkins and Blackburn voting no.

The county budget, though, is already on the horizon. During Wednesday’s meeting, the court scheduled three budget workshop meetings for March 21, April 16 and April 18. All sessions will begin at 8 a.m. in the fiscal courtroom at the courthouse.

In other action Wednesday, the fiscal court:

— approved the fiscal year Rural Secondary Road program proposal from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. It calls for the state to spend $320,000 to repave portions of Combs Ferry Road and Two Mile Road. The court voted unanimously to keep $120,937 in flex money to repave Venable Road, Augusta Drive and Stonecrest Road.

— approved a resolution in honor of longtime magistrate Rick Smith, who died in January.

— approved a grant application for a state opportunity zone.

— approved the promotion of Robert Smith from volunteer to full-time firefighter.

— approved hiring Robert Moyer as a part-time firefighter.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0051.

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