Board votes to give road manager a raise

By BY RECARDO THOMAS STAFF REPORTER,

Sunflower County’s road manager is getting a raise.

At Monday's Sunflower County Board of Supervisors meeting a 4-1 vote resulted in a $5,000 pay increase for County Road Manager T. J. Fairley.

District 3 Supervisor Glenn Donald introduced a proposal to increase Fairley's pay from $52,000 annually to $57,000 mainly due to the extra work that has been placed on him, especially in recent weeks.

"T.J. is doing the job of two or three people and the reason I say that is that normally Sunflower County has two road managers." Donald said.

District 3 Supervisor Ben Gaston, who voted no on the raise, said he was doing so because it wasn't in the budget. He asked if it was scheduled.

Donald stated, "If you ask me is it in the budget, yes it's in the budget because in salaries we don't ever run out of money in salaries in the budget. "We should be budgeting salaries the way they ought to be,” Gaston said, “In my view, if it wasn't an increase scheduled for this month, in the budget, in the salary line, I'm going to vote against it."

Donald's motion included a request for County Administrator Gloria McIntosh to move money from the bridge fund account to the salary line in the road department's account to support the pay increase. Donald said the county would not have to borrow anything but just move some funds from one department to another.

Donald explained his argument regarding the pay increase.

"We gave him (Fairley) something last year, so we we’re gradually bringing him up. It's time for us to go on and give him the other money that we thought that he should have been getting anyway.” He said they were trying to avoid giving him so much at one time.

Donald continued, "What we're trying to raise him to now, he was making that, and we took it back from him. He was actually making $57,000. He was being paid that, somebody discovered that he was getting paid that and they brought it back and all I'm asking to do is take it back where it was, to the $57,000."

"What we're paying him is kind of really under what he needs to be getting," Donald said.

Gaston acknowledged Fairley's work ethic and that with the quality and quantity of work he is doing, he was deserving of the pay, but his contention was that it was not in this year's budget.

"I'm just one of these guys that believe if you're going to give somebody a raise at a certain time of the year it ought to be in the budget, on the right line. You don't pull it from another department because you're robbing Peter to pay Paul. Now, that's my position. We'll go ahead and take the vote," Gaston said.

President Riley Rice asserted that all of the supervisors recognize the job that Fairley does, but the question at hand was whether to raise his salary now or later and he added that he was in favor of doing it now.

"I see what Ben is saying. We shouldn't do it coming up to budget, but since T.J. has done a magnificent job we wanted him to know that we're going to do it right now," Rice said.

During the exchange, Gaston acknowledged that the new budget year was coming up soon and that it should wait until then.

District 5 Supervisor Gloria Dickinson emphasized that with it being so close to the start of a new budget year the amount in question was less than $2,000 for the remainder of the budget year and asserted that Fairley was deserving of that for all of the work that he does.

He will in essence be starting his new salary in June instead of October.

The members discussed possible options and alternatives to labeling it as a raise. However, a remark by Donald to call the increase hazardous pay instead of a raise sparked a strong comment from McIntosh.

She stressed that her budget already has a line item designated for hazardous pay and that if anyone else was going to receive hazardous pay, she and her accounting department should get it also because of their performance and continued service.

"The County Administrator has $80,000 on that line of which I get paid $30,000. I do everything I think you all ask me to do. My accounting department does everything I ask them to do, if we're going to go on that premise (hazardous pay) then I ask for a raise for me and my accounting department today," McIntosh said.

Gloria Dickinson then spoke up, "No, no, no, let's move on. We're going to do all of this at budget time."

Rice then made a statement assuring that they would look at all of the departments at budget time, but Gaston cautioned him not to make promises because it would all depend on the impact of the pandemic on the county's budget.

In other business,

The county leaders voted to abandon a portion of Ward Riddick Road, which is north of Parchman, from East Minot Road South. The county spent just $8,400 to build a road around a bridge on that stretch instead of the thousands of dollars it would have cost to replace the bridge.

They also approved a proposal to allow County Engineer Ron Cassada to get two quotes for the dirt work to repair Moll Road.

County Tax Assessor-Collector Cynthia Chandler reported on her delight in the outcome of the county's online tax sale process. She told the county fathers that she likes the process and that she finished her post tax sale responsibilities in just over a week whereas it would normally take a month.

The online tax sale resulted in $1,097, 013 and the county received an additional $103,151 in overbids and those funds will be retained by the county.

A question was raised about hazardous pay for sheriff's deputies and the county lawmakers discussed establishing a hazardous pay policy for future use after deciding they would provide the supplemental amounts to the deputies. No definite amount was talked about, they will see what other counties are doing with regard to hazardous pay.

Referencing a rumor that he said was circulating, Sheriff James Haywood made a public statement acknowledging that he has not turned down any pay increases for his employees.

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