City & County

Pay raise ordinance gets nod, heads to second reading

By JOEL PHELPS | The Arkadelphian

After Monday’s 1.5-hour meeting, Clark County justices of the peace might argue they need a raise. 

They’re now on track to receive a $100 bump in per diem pay after a 7-4 vote to place a pay raise ordinance on its second reading. If the Clark County Quorum Court approves the second and third readings of an ordinance proposed by longtime Justice Albert Neal (D-District 4), the final step would be a vote to adopt the ordinance.

For more than 25 years justices on the 11-member legislative panel have pulled down $200 for each monthly meeting they attend (and for one month of excused absence). Toward the end of 2022 Neal proposed an increase of $50 ($250 total) per meeting, but that plea fell on deaf ears as his motion died on the floor for a lack of a second. 

Then came a fresh crop of newly elected justices and another chance at getting the raise. Only this time Neal slipped an additional $50 into his proposal, calling for a $300 per diem payment.

Neal’s calculations put Clark County justices among the lowest paid in the state’s Class 3 counties. “It’s time for us to increase the per diem for the office of justice of the peace,” Neal said. “It’s not really about me or anybody in office.”

A motion to read the ordinance, made by Justice Mark Overturf, passed unanimously. However, a motion to adopt the ordinance didn’t receive enough votes (4-7) to finalize it, as Justice Jimmy King (R-District 5) noted his calculations, post-raise, put justices in the 50 percentile range in the state’s dozen Class 3 counties. Voting against ordinance adoption were Michael Ankton, B.J. Johns, Jenna Scott and Vanilla Hannah, who took a moment to study King’s calculations. Eight votes were required to adopt the ordinance.

A motion to place the ordinance on its second reading at the March meeting passed unanimously.

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