Logan quorum court considers raises for county employees

Alex Gladden
Fort Smith Times Record
The Courthouse for the Logan County Southern District in Booneville as seen Jan. 6. The Logan County Quorum Court is discussing giving its employees approximately $240,000 in raises.

The Logan County Quorum Court is discussing giving its employees approximately $240,000 in raises.

The justices of the peace will vote on the measure at next month's meeting.

Full-time county employees would receive a 3% raise if approved. Part-time employees would not receive a raise. Neither would emergency medical technicians because they already received a raise when Arkansas increased the minimum wage on Jan. 1 to $11 an hour.

As part of the plan, the sheriff and the county judge would receive $7,500 more per year. All other elected officials would receive $5,000 more per year, excluding the coroner. The coroner would receive $1,000 more per year, Justice of the Peace Jeanne Andrews said.

If applied, the raises would be retroactive back to Jan. 1 of this year.

The quorum court members compared the county employee's current salaries to other Class 3 counties in the state and found that the elected county officials were vastly underpaid.

"They are underpaid comparable to all the other Class 3 counties," Andrews said about elected officials.

Class 3 counties have between 20,000 and 30,000 people in population, County Judge Ray Gack said. 

While regular county employees are generally paid within $1,000 of the salaries of other Class 3 counties' employees, Andrews said their elected county officials are generally paid about $10,000 less than other Class 3 counties' elected officials. This holds true except for the case of the coroner who, in some cases, made a similar salary to other Class 3 counties.

For example, in Logan County, the county judge makes $47,200, but in Yell County the county judge makes $65,898. In Phillips County, the county judge makes $62,704. In Hempstead County, the county judge makes $66,450. In Conway County, the county judge makes $66,814, and in Clark County, the county judge makes $54,940.

Logan County Sheriff Jason Massey is paid the same as the county judge. 

Gack said it's important to make the Logan County elected officials' salaries competitive to incentivize people to run for office.

When he retires, he said that he wants to be sure that the next person is paid enough.

“It only makes sense that we need to at least get up there be comparable with other counties," Gack said about salaries for elected county officials.

With the raises, "we’re still at the bottom, but we’re making progress," Gack said.

Gack said the 3% raise for full-time employees, excluding emergency medical technicians, is important too.

The 3% raise helps with rising inflation rates, he said. It also is crucial for people who may have had financial struggles throughout the pandemic.

“Everybody in the whole world has had a difficult year," Gack said.

Sales tax revenue factor

The county is able to pay for the raises because it had a smaller budget this year and saw a rise in sales tax revenue.

Gack credited the rise in sales tax revenue with the pandemic forcing people to shop locally. He also said that people were able to spend more because of their stimulus checks.

“I think it’s just a combination of lots of things why the revenue was up this year," Gack said.

The last time county employees received raises was in 2018, Gack said.

“I’m excited about this, and I’m hoping that the employees appreciate it," Gack said about the proposed raises. "I know I definitely appreciate it. I think everybody involved will appreciate what they’re doing and at least like I say they’re trying to support the county employees."