HomeBusinessCounty Commission looking at multiple big votes next week

County Commission looking at multiple big votes next week

When the Madison County Commission meets on Monday night, there are at least two items on the agenda that will probably generate a noticeable amount of discussion time as they’ve already generated discussion in multiple committee meetings in the past couple weeks.

The first item whether or not to raise the pay of the county commissioners and school board members.

Commissioners raised their monthly pay during the last term to $500, which was previously $300. That raise didn’t take effect until September of 2022 after the next round of elections and new Commissioners were sworn in. The current plan being voted on wouldn’t take effect until September of 2026, after the next round of elections and the swearing-in of those who win election.

They looked earlier this year at doubling their pay to $1,000 per month, but that didn’t pass. The Commissioners are revisiting again with a new amount and a new caveat.

The current proposal set to be voted on is raising the pay to $750 per month, and each Commissioner has the option to get on the County’s insurance plan, and their pay would go toward that. According to Mayor A.J. Massey during the Republican caucus on April 8, for a single person to get that insurance, the cost is $735 per month. Adding family would raise that to about $950, meaning any Commissioner who wanted to get the insurance would use nearly all of their pay for insurance for just themselves or all plus about $200 more for the family plan.

As both the Republican and Democratic caucuses met earlier this week, the plan doesn’t have full support of either group.

Supporters for the most part are doing so because they’re hopeful this will be enough of an enticement to get more people to run for County Commission. In the 2022 County Commission elections, a total of 44 people filed petitions to run for 25 seats. In five school board races that began with primaries last month, 15 people filed petitions to run for those.

With veteran commissioners getting older, there is discussion of some of them not running for re-election in 2026, and that concerns supports like County Commission Chairman Mike Taylor.

“We need younger people running, and a lot of those who are able to serve are usually business owners,” Taylor said. “And if increased pay or access to county insurance is what it takes to get people in that kind of position to run, then that’s something we need to look at.”

Those who oppose in both caucuses like Gary Deaton on the Republican side and William Martin on the Democratic side question if more money will be able to get better candidates for positions.

“When I first came on the Commission in 1990, we got paid $50 per month,” Martin said. “I didn’t do it for money. None of us did back then.”

Deaton had a similar statement and asked a question during the Republican caucus.

“If $500 or $750 is enough to make someone want to run, are they running for the right reasons?” Deason asked. “Because if they’re not, we risk electing a bunch of people to the Commission that don’t care other than getting some extra money in their pockets and they won’t do much else to move this county forward.”

The other issue is a memorandum of understanding between the Commission and the Jackson-Madison County School Board and Superintendent Marlon King about an eventual vacation of the current Central Office to allow the County to move offices to that facility.

JMCSS is currently renovating the old Madison Academic/Jackson High building with plans of moving its central offices there and calling it the Central Administration Building (CAB) at Hub City Central. Board meetings would happen in the old cafeteria. Administrative staff would move there and provide wrap around services for families in the district.

Leaving the current building on North Parkway would open office space for the County, and there was a meeting with the property committee on Wednesday, April 10, in which they were deciding between the election commission and archives department to use a couple of open rooms in the Finance Department on Hollywood Drive. Different departments including the election commission have looked at moving to the central office in the last couple of years.

The current plan on the table between Taylor and King is the County would pay $2 million to JMCSS that they would use toward the renovation of CAB to expedite that renovation process.

But there are members of the Republican caucus of the Commission and the JMCSS Board who disagree with this plan.

Commissioners disagree with paying any money to get JMCSS moved out because it’s a County building, so they own it anyway.

Board members disagree with it for different reasons. Board Chairman James “Pete” Johnson, Harvey Walden and Sherry Franks all believe they can get more than $2 million if they were to sell the building.

The building has been assessed as being worth $2.9 million, and the way the current real estate market is, they could possibly come close to doubling that total.

But the County still owns the building, and any sale of the building doesn’t happen without the Commission’s approval.

And according to Taylor during Monday’s caucus meeting, during his one-on-one negotiations with King, he said that $2 million is the largest offer the Commission would offer for the property.

While the County Commission meets Monday night, the JMCSS Board will have their work session at the same time before their monthly meeting on Thursday. Both bodies will likely discuss the matter in detail before voting next week.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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