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Proposed tax will not fund raises

By By Sherry Digmon
Advance Staff Writer
Several county officials will get pay increases in the fall, but the raises are not funded from the proposed one-cent sales tax as has been rumored in the community.
The tax referendum will be on the ballot June 27. If approved, five percent of the tax will go to the county's volunteer fire departments, 20 percent to the general fund debt service and 75 percent to road and bridge improvement.
Not only will the new tax, if passed, not fund the raises, no existing tax will be used in the pay increases.
The bill funds all the increases, including the commissioners'," said Tony Sanks, county administrator.
The increases in probate fees include probate of wills, grant of letters, proceedings in change of name, issuing subpoenas, issuing and recording marriage licenses and other services.
The state bill, passed in February, goes into effect Oct. 1, 2000.
Until 1991, commissioners received $14,600 per year.
In 1991, the pay was increased by $400 to $15,000. There has been no increase since 1991.
The new law raises the state minimum pay for county commissioners by 17 percent to $17,082 per year. That adds $2,482 to the existing minimum of $14,600.
However, Escambia County commissioners' pay was raised to $15,000 in 1991 by a local law sponsored by the local legislative delegation. The commissioners will get $2,082 per year which will bring them up to the new state minimum of $17,082.
The chairman's pay was $29,600, plus $3,600, until 1991 when it was increased to $30,000.
The new law raises the statewide minimum by 17 percent for a full-time chairman to $35,100. The Escambia County Commission chairman is full-time as dictated by local law.
The chairman and each commissioner receive $3,600 for expenses annually.
The new law does not apply only to the county commission.
The sheriff, tax collector, tax assessor and probate judge will all be affected.
The statewide minimum for the sheriff's pay will be raised from $35,000 to $50,000. This will not affect the current sheriff since his pay was already raised to $60,000 by a local law passed by the legislature.
This bill authorizes the county commission to provide the tax collector and tax assessor with an expense allowance of up to $10,000 per year. However, the bill does not say the commission must do so, only that it is authorized to.
The sheriff, tax collector, tax assessor and probate judge currently do not receive expense allowances.
According to the new law, any pay increase received during the past year would offset the $10,000 expense allowance if it is approved. The sheriff, collector and assessor received a $6,500 increase in the regular session of the legislature which set those salaries at $60,000.
The new law raises the probate judge's minimum compensation from $52,500 to $61,425 a year, a 17 percent increase.
The current probate judge earns $88,764 and will go over $110,000, Oct. 1. That salary will be in effect until he retires in January, then will drop back to $61,425.
In 1981, a law was passed that set the salary of the probate judge the same as the salary of the presiding circuit judge in the county. While the local law that set the salaries at $60,000 for the sheriff, tax collector and tax assessor did not apply to the current judge, it did contain wording that applies to the succeeding judge. That's why the salary goes back to $61,425 when the new judge takes office in January.
Sanks emphasized that none of these increases will come through new or existing taxes.