County Attorney Seth Slagle was denied a request for an increase in pay Monday when commissioners took action against the recommendation of the county’s salary grievance committee.
Slagle petitioned the grievance committee Friday, Aug. 24, asking that the base salary set for the county attorney be increased to match salaries of the county judge, commissioners and sheriff.
Currently, the county attorney’s salary is set at the same grade as all other elected officials. The county treasurer, county clerk, district clerk, tax assessor-collector and justice of the peace have been budgeted salaries of $44,000.04, while the judge, commissioners and sheriff will earn $45,000.04
“I do not believe it is fair that six officials make $1,000 more than every other official in the county,” argued Slagle.
The county judge and county attorney also receive supplemental pay from the state. In the new fiscal year, Slagle will earn an additional $20,833.33 from the state, effectively bringing his pay to $64,833.37, the highest among all county officials.
Slagle stated that the average base salary for county attorneys in counties with populations ranging between 10,000 and 25,000 residents is $47,429. He also said commissioners are not allowed by law to reduce the salary of a county attorney based on the state supplement they receive, and should not effect the outcome of the committee’s decision.
In his request for a hearing with the grievance committee, Slagle noted that the county auditor – an appointed position whose salary is set by the district judge – will earn $51,500.04 in the new fiscal year, as well as the salaries of the county judge, commissioners and sheriff. Slagle requested a base salary of $51,500.04, and offered $45,000.04 as an alternative.
During the hearing, Slagle said that he listed the first request and the alternative to demonstrate the range in which the committee could set his salary, and then directed committee members to scratch out the top amount.
“The increase is not what I am here about, it is the making a thousand dollars less,” he reiterated.
The 9-member committee, comprised of five elected officials and four community members, voted 6-3 in Slagle’s favor. County Judge Kenneth Liggett chaired the hearing and could not vote. County officials serving as voting members were Slagle, Sheriff Kenny Lemons, District Clerk Dan Slagle, Tax Assessor-Collector Linda Sellers and County Clerk Sasha Kelton. Kelton was the only official to vote against the increase. After the committee dismissed, Kelton said her decision was made based on what she felt best for the taxpayer.
With a unanimous vote from the committee, commissioners would have been required to approve the salary increase. A majority vote requires only that commissioners consider the request.
After commissioners adjourned Monday, Slagle said he is leaning toward an appeal of the decision in district court.
Slagle was appointed county attorney in 2010 following the mid-term retirement of Eddy Atkins. Slagle is unopposed in his bid to secure the office in the November general election.