Countywide amendments

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 8, 2000

pass by a slim margin


Managing Editor

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Despite a case of early confusion regarding the specifics of Pike County’s local amendments, amendment proponents who wanted to see an end to countywide supernumerary positions can claim victory.

Amendments 1 and 2 would end supernumerary positions while allowing county officials to participate in state retirement. Amendment 1 flew with 56 percent of about 7,400 voters giving it thumbs up.

Local Amendment 2 passed with 54 percent of Pike County voters approving it.

The two amendments, which are exact except for a critical one-word difference, received harsh criticism from opponents who claimed they open the door to state legislators who represent all or portions of Pike County to claim retirement through the county.

Amendment supporters believe the amendments will put an end to supernumerary positions which currently cost the county $28,000 annually and could serve to cost the county more money in the future.

According to officials, supernumerary positions were developed in the early 1900s as a way to allow officials who were not in public office but who had served in the past to be called back into duty in times of crisis or need.

The ideology was that some positions required specific skills and credentials and there were few people with those skills in some cases besides past office holders.

Amendment 1 puts county commissioners into the state retirement system, though before its passage, commissioners were not eligible.

Amendment 2 has the same effect, but will also add Pike County’s municipal mayors into state retirement. Currently, Pike County’s mayors are not eligible for state retirement.

The amendments were not supported by Retirement Systems of Alabama officials who feel that they open the door to arbitration or litigation as state officials may move to come under the umbrella of county retirement.

According to Marc Reynolds, legislative council for RSA, "We do not support these amendments. We want to develop a program that allows all legislators access or doesn’t allow any of them in at all. This is a back door approach that we cannot support."

Rep. Alan Boothe of Troy proposed the amendments in response to local requests by officials for him to help the county put an end to supernumerary positions.

Voters gave Amendment 1 4,118 yes votes and 3,273 no votes.

The big stories regarding these amendments are that nearly as many people who voted in the election didn’t vote on this amendment at all as those who voted against it.

Results show that nearly 3,200 people didn’t cast a vote on Amendment 1. The numbers on Amendment 2 are similar with about 4,043 people voting in favor of it while 3,335 voted against it and 3,211 didn’t cast ballots.

Nearly one-third of all of Tuesday’s voters declined voting on one or both of these amendments, marking a high percentage compared to other elections on the Tuesday ballot.

These amendments will become local law because they are listed as local amendments and do not appear on the ballot in other counties.