County Executive Jimmy Haley readdressed a salary increase for Finance Department director Justin Cotten.
“When Mr. Cotten was hired by the previous administration at a certain set salary, it was discussed after a year of employment that we would address his salary,” said Haley to the Financial Management Committee. “It has been recommended that Mr. Cotten’s salary be adjusted to the same amount as the lowest paid elected official in the county.”
“Who is the lowest elected official?” asked Director of Schools Bobby Cox.
Answered Cotten, “All the fee offices are at the same level. The clerks, circuit court clerk, trustee, property assessor, and register of deeds.”
Requested was a $15,292 salary increase, bumping Cotten from $63,490 up to $78,782.
“I’ve researched some other counties around us and they tie it to the salary of a trustee so when the salary of a trustee is increased by the state, then that’s an automatic increase, but that’s just my opinion,” said Cox, who was in favor of the increase.
However, some members of the committee were seemingly not in favor of the increase, including Road Superintendent Levie Glenn.
“Does this committee think that’s a good thing to pay Justin as much as an elected official who has to run for office,” asked Glenn. “I mean, it is a boost way up in what previously was paid.”
According to Cotten, former Finance Department director Linda Hillis was budgeted in 17-18 at $66,976.
“Where would the money come from?” asked Glenn.
Answered Cox, “It would have to be in the budget. I was the same way when Linda was here. I felt like it needed to be the same. That’s my opinion.”
“I agreed with that opinion,” said Commissioner Richard Grissom.
After further discussion, Cox suggested the committee look at other counties and readdress it.
“You can always look at other counties but when Justin was hired, he knew what the salary was and just because some counties do things sometimes ... you have to look at what budget you’ve got to operate within,” said Glenn.
Asked Haley to Cotten, “You have an accounting degree and how many years have you worked in finance?”
Answered Cotten, “Seven years and I was with the state for three before that.”
If Cotten’s salary is tied to the trustee’s state-mandated salary, his salary will fall under the new rate of $80,751.