The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

August 5, 2006

Judges highest paid among local public servants, elected officials

By Sonny Turner

Who is the highest paid elected official or public servant in Athens and Limestone County?

According to state, county and city records, Limestone County Circuit Judge Jimmy Woodroof is drawing the most with a salary approaching $150,000 a year.

Limestone County District Attorney Kristi Valls and Limestone County’s other circuit judge, Bob Baker, are close behind. Valls is paid approximately $139,000 and Baker draws about $120,000 per year.

The salaries of the judges and DA top out at $139,966 after 12 years in office. But Woodroof draws another $11,952.34 supplement from the county. By law, the DA’s salary is set at $1,000 below that of circuit judges. The DA also receives a car allowance.

County supplements were phased out recently and 100 percent of court officials’salaries are now paid by the State Administrative Office of Courts. But those who were drawing supplements before the change will continue to do so until they leave office.

The salaries of the judges along with those of the circuit court clerk, district attorney, county commission chairman and county commission elected offices are set by the Alabama Legislature.

Limestone County District Judges Jeanne Anderson and Jerry Batts draw more than $111,000 per year. They top out in pay at $138,716 in 12 years. Judge Anderson draws another $4,804.80 in county supplements.

Limestone County Engineer Richard Sanders draws $96,500 per year and County Administrator Pam Ball is paid approximately $71,000 annually. Limestone County Emergency Management Agency Director Spencer Black draws $60,400 per year.

All are paid more than Limestone County Commission Chairman David Seibert and county commissioners Tommy Raby Jr., Gerald Barksdale, Bill Latimer and Bill Daws. Seibert is paid $54,125 and commissioners earn $42,307 annually.

The commissioners are furnished vehicles, but they have to pay taxes on any vehicles they use for personal reasons.

“We have some county employees who have been with us a long time,” said Seibert. “We realize they are paid quite a bit more than us (commissioners), but we knew what we made when we were running for office.”

Limestone County commissioners are underpaid compared to Morgan County’s commissioners. The latest figures available show Morgan County pays its chairman $78,492 per year and the four commissioners make $59,812.

But in Cullman County, a county similar in size to Limestone, the chairman makes only $47,853 and commissioners are paid $38,844 per year.

Limestone County Probate Judge Mike Davis is paid $74,452 annually and Limestone County Circuit Court Clerk Charles Page is paid $58,430. Page is paid another $2,761 by the county.

Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely is paid $59,089 per year. However, Blakely draws leftover money from the jail’s food fund. The amount of money he gets from that was not revealed at this time.

Limestone License Commissioner Greg Tucker and Revenue Commissioner Brian Patterson each earn $59,000 per year.

Capt. Stanley McNatt, who heads up the investigative division for Blakely, is paid $56,200 per year. McNatt has more than 30 years experience as a lawman.

Newly appointed Chief Deputy Randy King is paid $55,300.

Limestone County Revenue Enhancement Officer Rodney Jackson makes $39,900 annually, the records show.

City of Athens salaries

In Athens, City Electric Department Manager Gary Scroggins and Athens Gas Department Manager Steve Carter are paid $85,000 each annually. Both earn quite a bit more than Athens Mayor Dan Williams, who is paid $54,000 per year.

They are furnished city vehicles along with the mayor.

Other salaries of city officials show that Athens Police Chief Wayne Harper is paid $72,500 per year, while his two captains, Marty Bruce and Tracy Harrison, earn $53,500 each.

Athens Fire Chief Cliff Christopher is paid $69,000 per year.

Members of the Athens City Council — President Ronnie Marks, Jimmy Gill, Henry White, Johnny Crutcher and Harold Wales are paid $950 per month for their part-time positions. Records show the last increase they had in pay was in 2004 when a previous council increased it from $750 to $950 per month.