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Date: 11-20-2017

It’s in the Budget: As the campaigns begin, here’s how elected officials are compensated

A desire to serve the public is what every politician worth his or her salt says drives the pursuit of public office.

But as local politicians begin filing their paperwork this month to run in next year’s races, some stand to make more than others if elected to the position they seek.

While some say public service is it’s own reward, most politicians don’t work for free. Consider the relative compensation one receives for working as a member of the Kentucky General Assembly and for working as, say, a county judge-executive.

According to the Legislative Research Commission’s annual Legislative Gavel publication, members of the House and Senate, by statute, receive $188.22 a day while the legislature is in session. That amount is per calendar day, said LRC spokesman Rob Weber.

Legislators also receive $156.20 per calendar day for living expenses as well as a stationary allowance of $500 for senators and $250 for House members. Between General Assembly sessions, legislators are allotted $1,788.51 a month to maintain an office in their home district, the LRC said.

In even-numbered years such as 2018, there are about 100 calendar days during which the legislature is in session and eight and a half months when it’s not. That translates to about $50,000 per year.

From left, State re. Jill York (R-Grayson), State Rep. Chris Harris (R-Martin Co., and State Senator ray Jones. York and Harris make about $50,000 per year while Jones makes slightly more because he is Minority Leader of the Senate. These figures do not include expenses and special sessions.From left, State re. Jill York (R-Grayson), State Rep. Chris Harris (R-Martin Co., and State Senator ray Jones. York and Harris make about $50,000 per year while Jones makes slightly more because he is Minority Leader of the Senate. These figures do not include expenses and special sessions.

The $50,000 estimate doesn’t include the higher daily salaries of legislative leaders — $225.62 for floor leaders, $235.57 for the Senate president and speaker of the House and $216.88 for the Senate president pro tem, the speaker pro tem of the House and the majority and minority caucus chairmen and whips.

It also excludes payment for interim committee meetings and special sessions, the $18.71 per meeting that committee chairmen receive and the 53.5 cents per mile that legislators receive for driving to and from their home districts at most once per week.

Still, legislative compensation is chump change when compared to that of county officials.

By statute, county judges-executive, county clerks, sheriffs, jailers operating full-service jails and property valuation administrators are compensated in accordance with the size or their counties and their years of service. County Jailers in counties where there is no jail can make up to $20,000 per year but many of them, as in Lawrence, Martin and Magoffin earn much more appointing themselves as transportation directors.

In a county such as Franklin County with between 45,000 and 59,999 people, a first-year county official receives an annual salary of $91,162.69, the LRC says. That increases to $95,214.36 in the second year, $99,266.04 in the third year and a maximum of $103,317.71 in the fourth year.

In Lawrence County, which has a population of 15,863 according to the latest census figures supplied by the Kentucky Association of Counties and the U.S. Census Bureau, salaries are lower than Franklin Co. The chart below shows how much county-wide officials are paid by state statute not counting expenses. They receive $85,085 by the 4th year of their terms. The get an automatic raise each year they are in office for the first four years, but no raises after the first term.

In Martin County, with a population of 12,537 and Magoffin Co., pop. 12,913, the salaries are the same as Lawrence while in Johnson County (pop. 23,262)  the officials receive $3,000 to $6,000 per year more by the time their 4-year term ends.

 

county officials salariescounty officials salaries

 

Alfred Miller
of The State Journal contributed to this story

 

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