HAZARD—The Perry County Fiscal Court voted last month to approve the 2014 budget for the Perry County Clerk’s office, even after some controversy arose due to raises being added into the budget.
According to documents obtained in the clerk’s office, the county clerk’s deputies’ gross salaries for 2013 were estimated to be $458,780. Compared to 2014’s estimate of $484,163 that’s an increase of over $25,000, or roughly 3 percent. The clerk’s salary also increased from $87,768 in 2013 to $88,200 in 2014.
Perry County Clerk Haven King said the raises are necessary to prepare his staff for the upcoming election year as well as for the implementation of a new filing system for the state.
“We’ve got two elections coming up, probably the biggest elections we’ve ever had, plus we’ve got a new system for files now that we’ve got to start training on,” King said, adding that the extra workload his staff will be facing next year warrants a pay increase.
Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble said it would not be fair to give the deputy clerks even such a small raise as 3 percent when the county cannot afford to give any other workers one, too.
“We’re not, at the county level, going to have any cost-of-living raises here with the loss of coal severance money,” Noble addressed King at the meeting. “On our side, we’re cutting back as much as we can. It’s going to get tight — much worse than we thought.”
Noble said he recommended that the clerk’s and sheriff’s offices implement a cost-of-living raise, which would be a 3 percent increase, for staff in July, though King did not accept it. Noble explained that raises come out of the excess fees in a department’s budget, however, other bills also come out of that fund, including health insurance.
“That’s something that’s hitting us hard right now,” he said. “It comes down to, do you want a raise or do you want health insurance?”
King said that the clerk’s office is facing its most prosperous time of the year, and with elections coming next year and the car dealerships in the area doing so well, the office expects more money to come in next year from tags, taxes, and other fees.
“Our people work hard,” King said. “If we wasn’t making any money, I could see you saying you don’t want to give us a raise.”
Earl Brashear, magistrate of District 3, said though he didn’t think it was fair to give the deputy clerks a raise when no one else would get one, he would not vote against giving anyone a raise.
“If part of us gets a raise and part of us don’t it makes some people feel good and some people mad,” Brashear said.
Frank Hurley, District 1 magistrate, disagreed with Brashear and said he could not vote for something that was unfair.
“I can’t vote to give somebody a raise and not the others. I’m not going to,” he said.
Noble said so far the county has lost over $4.5 million in coal severance money since last year. This, topped with revenue lost because of the 911 service, regional jail payments, and increased health insurance costs, has hurt the county’s budget tremendously, and Noble said he expects more cuts to come.
“You can’t continue going on and on spending money you know you aren’t going to have,” Noble said. “It should be equal across the board, not one department getting it and the rest not. If we don’t pass this budget today because Haven asked for a raise, who gets the blame? The county judge. Pretty simple.”
After nearly an hour of discussion among the members of the court, King requested for a motion to be made for a vote to either approve or reject the clerk’s budget.
Brashear made a motion to accept the clerk’s budget, with Hurley seconding it, according to the minutes recorded in the clerk’s office. The court voted unanimously to accept it.