Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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May 16, 2014

Mercer County’s elected officials could receive pay raises

PRINCETON — Mercer County’s elected officials could receive a pay raise if the state auditor determines the county can afford to do so.

Senate Bill 1005, recently passed by the Legislature, allows counties to raise the salaries of elected officials if the state auditor certifies that the county can afford to do so, according to the bill’s text. The auditor had asked the Mercer County Commission to submit financial information such as income and expenditures, said County Clerk Verlin Moye.

“Of course, the increases vary on the county’s classification,” Moye said Thursday.  Mercer County is a Class I. Such counties have a total assessed value in property of over $2 billion, he said. Auditors will have to determine the county’s rating.

The last pay raise for elected officials was in 2006, Moye said. If a pay raise is approved, it would amount to 12 percent of an elected official’s current salary. Elected officials must request the pay increase if they want one.

Mercer County Commission President Mike Vinciguerra said Moye, Circuit Clerk Julie Ball, and County Assessor Sharon Gearhart requested the salary increase

However, this does not automatically mean a pay increase will be granted, Moye said.

“The auditor has to sign off that it is affordable,” Moye said. “I seriously doubt we will be certified for an increase, but I support it. It is just and it is due. I feel every elected official and rank and file employee needs a cost of living adjustment. All the employees in the courthouse most definitely deserve that, but this does not affect that. It is for elected officials only.”

“The responsibility and workload of the elected officials in this county has increased substantially. Since 2008, we’ve had 11 elections,” Moye said.

The circuit clerk’s office also has to serve a third circuit court judge as handle the  cases of two other judges, he said.

Moye said that both he and Ball earn $55,410 a year. If a pay raise were approved, this would increase to $62,093. The assessor’s salary would increase from $44,880 to $50,266.

Financial information had to be submitted to the state auditor by Thursday, Moye said. The forms to request pay increases must be submitted by June 30. Auditors will try to reach a decision by the start of the next fiscal year on July 1.

Vinciguerra said the county commissioners, Sheriff Don Meadows and Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash are not seeking the raise.

“We haven’t given county employees a raise in three years, and we didn’t think it would be right,” he said. “We couldn’t see in good faith taking an increase and not giving county employees anything.”

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