County asks for expense accounts

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 3, 2004

A measure to provide an expense account for the sheriff and revenue commissioner is getting closer to the state legislature.

Legal advertisements that began running Dec. 12 in The Messenger, put forth language necessary to create local legislation necessary to provide $500 per month expense accounts to the two county officers.

County administrator Harry Sanders said the provision of the expense allowances were budgeted for the current year by commissioners, but that the process of actually granting the funding required legislative action

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"The omnibus pay bill took expense accounts away from the revenue commissioner and sheriff, and combined those with their salaries," he said.

"This is simply reinstating those expense accounts, but they have to be passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor," Sanders said.

Commissioners approved a salary of $65,114.76 for Sheriff Russell Thomas, and a salary of $68,425 for Revenue Commissioner Curtis Blair when it passed its Fiscal Year 2003-2004 budget in October.

The commission also approved the $500 per month expense accounts for both offices.

"We went ahead and budgeted those expenses assuming they would be approved by the Legislature," Sanders said.

In Fiscal Year 2002-2003, Blair's actual salary was $46,240 with expenses of $9,996. Thomas drew $46,486.95 with expenses of $6,075.53.

The job of introducing the local legislation will fall to State Rep. Alan Boothe, because revenue bills must origination in the House of Representatives.

"It will have to be introduced in the Legislature and pass both the House and the Senate to give the county commission the authority to pay those expenses," he said.

"It's been my and (Sen.) Wendell Mitchell's policy to introduce legislation for the commission only after a unanimous resolution from them," he said. "We would require (such a resolution) here."

Neither Thomas nor Blair could be reached for this story.