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Supervisors approve county pay raises

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Jan. 3, 2001
Lauderdale County supervisors approved $482,804 in pay raises Tuesday, raising the total county payroll from $6.29 million to $6.77 million.
The vote came after a salary study last year by Mississippi State University's Stennis Institute, and newly elected President Jimmie Smith of District 2 said the raises were discussed with department heads.
Smith said tenure played a part in the decisions as well, and some pay grades had to be brought "back into a more practical range." He said pay raises ended up "pretty close" to department heads' recommendations.
According to a summary report, the information systems department received the highest overall percentage increase at 14.8 percent, bringing three people's salary total from $95,364 to $109,479.
The Hilltop Boys Home staff's salaries increased by 14.6 percent, with one houseparent's salary increasing by 32.4 percent. Total salaries in that department are now at $51,830.
The Justice Court's staff received an overall 13.3 percent raise. Three deputy clerks got 17 to 22.4 percent increases.
The county administrator's office and the county engineer's office tied for the fourth-highest increase, 11.6 percent.
County Administrator Rex Hiatt received an additional 16.8 percent raise over the 8 percent increase he received in October, bringing his salary from $65,000 to almost $76,000. Total wages in his department of five employees including Hiatt increased from $162,542 to $181,323.
County Engineer Neal Carson got an additional 2.6 percent increase over his 8 percent October raise. His salary increased from $60,000 to $61,530. Most of the large percentage increases in his department went to equipment operators and mechanics. Of 46 of these employees, 24 received more than a 10 percent increase and 13 received more than 20 percent. The highest increase was 30.7 percent and total wages went from $1.26 million to $1.4 million.
When asked about Hiatt's almost 25 percent total pay increase, Smith said the 8 percent increase Hiatt's first raise was discussed during the budget process.
District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell and District 3 Supervisor Craig Hitt have consistently voted not to approve payroll dockets since that time.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie said the original proposal he received didn't reflect recent promotions so he recommended several changes. Supervisors acted on all his recommendations.
The three departments receiving the lowest raises were veteran's services at .8 percent, reappraisal at 1.5 percent and comptroller at 1.8 percent.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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