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Circuit, chancery clerks highest-paid county officials

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Jan. 21, 2001
The highest paid elected officials in Lauderdale County are the only two whose incomes still depend on fees instead of straight salaries, according to a survey by The Meridian Star.
And, if their comments are to be taken literally, some elected officials do not know how much they make.
Elected officials' pay ranges from $37,343 per year for county supervisors to the $83,160 recorded in 2000 by Circuit Clerk Donna Jill Johnson and Chancery Clerk Ann Wilson Hayes, whose incomes are capped by legislative act.
Hayes said she has no problem with the cap, and while she "wouldn't turn down a raise," she is satisfied with her salary.
Some elected county officials professed not to know their salaries.
Board of Supervisors president Jimmie Smith, for example, took a guess.
Supervisors in a part-time position are actually paid $37,343, according to payroll documents.
Smith said he doesn't think legislators have given county supervisors a raise since 1992.
Tax Assessor Jimmie Slay was another official who said he did not know the amount of his salary. But he said he did know it was the same as Tax Collector Stanley Shannon.
According to Lauderdale County payroll documents, Slay and Shannon make $54,639.
Shannon said pay for tax assessors and collectors was raised 10 to 12 percent in 1998 or 1999, but he does not feel the pay is a fair one for the job.
Sheriff Billy Sollie's salary is $65,000, which he said is in line with the pay of other Mississippi sheriffs serving a population of 45,000 to 100,000 people.
He said his department contains almost a third of all Lauderdale County employees and noted that when one compares a sheriff's salary to that of other elected officials the sheriff's department is a "seven-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day operation."
He said the board of supervisors has the authority to introduce a local and private bill to be approved by state legislators giving him an annual supplement of $10,000 to $15,000.
Sollie said he provides his own car, which is his choice, but "it's the supervisors' decision not to provide me with additional compensation."
Several other county sheriffs get supplements because their counties have state prisons, state hospitals, community work centers or county and private facilities that house state inmates.
Coroner Marl Cobler's salary is a bit different. He is allotted $100 monthly for expenses and paid $85 for each body he is called to investigate.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.
Lauderdale County elected officials' salaries:
Supervisors Jimmie Smith, Hank Florey, Ray Boswell, Craig Hitt and Q.V. Sykes $37,343
Circuit Clerk Donna Jill Johnson and Chancery Clerk Ann
Wilson Hayes $83,160
Tax Assessor Jimmy Slay and Tax Collector Stanley Shannon $54,639
Sheriff Billy Sollie $65,000
Coroner Marl Cobler $100 monthly expense stipend and $85 each time he is dispatched.