Over the past week I've witnessed salary debates on opposite sides of the spectrum for prominent elected positions in Calhoun County.
I attended a gathering of the Mississippi Association of Supervisors in Algoma last Wednesday at the invite of the Calhoun County supervisors. The frustration in the room was palpable as MAS officials discussed the Mississippi Senate's refusal to grant county boards of supervisors the authority to give themselves a pay increase as municipal boards of aldermen can.
They had a bill introduced that passed through the House of Representatives, but hit a “road block” in the Senate.
Supervisors’ salaries are determined by the total assessed valuation of the county. In Calhoun County, that results in supervisors earning a salary on the same level as a first-year school teacher - $34,700.
Supervisors haven't had a pay increase since 2007 when the county's assessed valuation increased enough to allow them an extra $1,000.
I’m not opposed to supervisors receiving a pay increase when they present it publicly and can do so without raising taxes.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Calhoun County Schools' Superintendent is now making $93,000 a year. All five school board members approved that salary at their meeting Monday night in Pittsboro. It was the second time in three years the school board raised the superintendent's salary by $4,000.
In 2011, they raised it $5,000 but later rescinded the salary increase at the behest of Superintendent Mike Moore. He didn’t request these most recent increases either, which is why it’s so curious as to why the school board is adamant about paying so much.
School Board President Billy McCord said it's necessary for the county to keep up in case the state eventually orders superintendents be appointed rather than elected, a change I've long supported.
McCord argues we will have to pay top dollar in that instance to attract a top-notch candidate. That's true, but until that day comes, there are plenty of reasons to question the wisdom of this kind of salary for an elected official in Calhoun County.
I’m not aware of any hardships the schools’ superintendent was suffering with a few years ago when the salary was closer to $80,000.
I'm proud teachers are getting a long overdue raise and agree with Superintendent Mike Moore that the legislature should have done more with education funding overall. The issues most in need of addressing still involve classroom teacher pay and expanding and improving early childhood education programs, not administrative salaries.
Email Joel McNeece at firstname.lastname@example.org & follow him on Twitter @joelmcneece