By Mark Waite
Justice of the peace salaries were left unchanged for this fiscal year, county commissioners decided Tuesday.
There was also talk about asking the JPs to take a furlough day, like other county employees.
That could change after a meeting between County Manager Pam Webster, Human Resources Director Danelle Shamrell and the two justices of the peace not retiring, Beatty J.P. Gus Sullivan and Pahrump J.P. Kent Jasperson.
Webster pointed out the JPs didn’t get a raise in the fiscal year that just ended June 30 and nothing is budgeted for this year.
In August 2007 county commissioners allowed a 7 percent increase in salaries for the justice of the peace to $69,563 annually that year, that was followed by 3 percent annual increases through June 30, 2011. The JPs now receive $76,013 annual salaries.
Pahrump JP Tina Brisebill is retiring this year after 12 years; she pushed commissioners to increase salaries in 2007, pointing out the Elko JP was paid an annual salary of $107,656.
At the time, Brisebill pointed out she handled 2,733 non-traffic cases in one year, compared to 541 in Tonopah Justice Court and 157 in Beatty Justice Court, but commissioners awarded the raises to all the JPs after Tonopah JP Joe Maslach said they were all full-time judges. Maslach took the early retirement buyout last year.
A second Pahrump JP, Jasperson, took office in January 2009 after commissioners were reminded the second justice position was necessary when Nye County exceeded 40,000 population.
Sullivan spoke briefly to commissioners by video conference from Beatty. He pointed out the two remaining judges who aren’t retiring want to be heard.
Sullivan had to fill in for Maslach in Tonopah Justice Court after he retired, a 93-mile drive each way.
“You guys asked me to step up to the plate and take care of the Tonopah Justice Court, which I have been doing for a year with no increase, the only thing I was given was a vehicle, no lunch, no nothing,” Sullivan said.
Webster complimented Sullivan for an outstanding job filling in at both courts.
District Attorney Brian Kunzi suggested approving the salaries with no increase at this time and asking if the justices would take a voluntary furlough.
Commissioner Dan Schinhofen wanted to go back to the salaries of 2010-2011.
“Everybody else is taking cuts over the last year and a lot of the elected officials voluntarily joined in the furloughs. I don’t know how many people here did. I’m not willing to support this while everybody else takes cuts and this group didn’t,” Schinhofen said.
Eastley pointed out some of the county commissioners didn’t voluntarily take pay cuts or the furloughs.