| By Jason C. Mattox
Thanks to a recently passed Senate bill, the floodgates of pay raise requests have been opened for the Panola County Board of Supervisors.
Supervisors have to approve pay raises for the offices of Sheriff, County Attorney, Justice Court Judges and Coroner.
At request of William McKenzie, attorney for the Board of Supervisors, Coroner Gracie Grant-Gulledge expressed her feelings about the raise.
"According to the Senate bill that becomes law in October, the county can elect to pay the coroner a base salary of anywhere from $100 to $900 per month," Grant-Gulledge explained.
The previous cap for the office of coroner was $750, the amount Panola County pays.
"The law does not outline a rate of pay for the deputy coroners," Grant-Gulledge said. "The county does have two, and I would like the county to do what they feel is fair in that case."
In the matter of her own salary, Grant-Gulledge requested the full $900 maximum set forth in the law.
One of the reasons Grant-Gulledge cited for wanting the pay increase was the lack of a state medical examiner.
"The state does not have a medical examiner, so the coroner pretty much acts as your medical examiner at a crime scene," she said.
Grant-Gulledge said the coroner’s office handles at least 20 calls per month and over half of the cases require an autopsy be performed.
"By the time you drive up, have the autopsy conducted and drive back, you are looking at approximately nine hours on a case," she said. "If there is an investigation, we could put in more time than that."
While Grant-Gulledge was the only county official present to request the increase, the other offices requests were mentioned.
Justice Court Judges are requesting a pay increase to $34,610.
County Attorney Gaines Baker is requesting a pay increase to $44,610.
As for the office of Sheriff, the maximum salary amount is $82,000, but the county will not be responsible for that full amount.
Sheriff David Bryan submitted a letter informing the Supervisors he will soon begin drawing state retirement because of his length of service to the county and South Panola School District.
The sheriff would continue to serve the county with no changes, but the county taxpayers would only be responsible for 25 percent of the salary.
All of these matters were taken under advisement. The county will vote on the matter prior to beginning the budget process for the next fiscal year.