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Voter registrar’s pay issue raised

Chairman Ike Hughes of the King George Electoral Board last week tried to persuade the King George Board of Supervisors to provide a 20 percent boost for the salary of Registrar Lorrie Gump.

Speaking for the Electoral Board, Hughes told supervisors, “We think we have the best registrar in the Commonwealth and probably the United States. We feel that we really need to look at the pay that we are paying Lorrie Gump. We need to have her feel that everybody is being treated equally.”

Hughes’s comments came at a meeting on Feb. 19 meeting, along with a slide presentation comparing Gump’s salary with those of 18 other unspecified county positions using a couple of bar charts with one chart indicating they represented, “Salaries for Similar Responsibilities/Duties,” showing Gump’s salary to be the lowest on the chart of the positions selected.

Hughes said, “We feel at the minimum she should be making at least the next lowest amount on that chart.” The slides indicated that Gump should be provided an increase of at least $10,173. (The chart can be found online at the county website in the Feb. 19 meeting packet.)

According to the county administration, Gump is currently paid $51,374.

Prior to the presentation from Hughes, two members of the public also spoke in support of giving Gump a substantial raise.  Those were election officer Arlene Jacovelli and vice president of the Electoral Board Larry Kile. “We need to pay people what they’re worth,” Kile said, adding, “I ask, is it worth $8,000-10,000?”

There were three written endorsements, with two identical letters in the meeting packet from volunteer vote officers Virginia Lorey and Richard Lorey, and a similar letter distributed from officer of elections Tina Dodd, all in favor of providing a raise.

BOARD RESPONSE
Chairman Dale Sisson responded to Hughes. “I did want to state and make sure we clarify for the audience members and those who may be watching, how this position is structured,” Sisson said.

He added, “The registrar is not an employee of the board of supervisors. There’s a reason why you have that separation between the elected officials and the one running the election. I just want to make sure that we make that clear that position is not an employee of the board of supervisors and we do not set that salary. It’s a budget matter, but not one that we take on directly relative to her salary.”

Sisson explained, saying, “That’s a salary that is established through the state compensation board and that’s how that’s worked out. I just want to make sure that we make that clear.”

He also added, “I just want to make it clear that we’re not as elected officials setting the salary of the one who runs elections.”

Supervisor Joe Grzeika commented, saying to Hughes, “I hope you are talking to our state delegation because those are the folks who need to understand some of your concerns so they can look at it when they talk to the compensation board looking at that position. Not just for her, but registrars in general.”
Hughes said they had communicated it to the state Board of Elections.

Supervisor Ruby Brabo suggested that Hughes might also point out to the state that there are only two registrars in the state who have completed national certification. Brabo added, “So maybe the state needs to make a distinction.” She also stated, “There are only two and we are fortunate to have one of them.”

The General Assembly sets the salary amounts to be reimbursed to localities in its general appropriation act for general registrars. State code also allows for localities to supplement the salary of the general registrar.
King George does supplement the salary and the position is generally subject to pay increases when granted to other employees and requested by the county Electoral Board.

State law also requires localities to pay the costs of benefits for the registrar, assistant registrars and staff as provided to other employees of the locality. In addition, the county is required to pay the reasonable expenses of the general registrar, including reimbursement for mileage, to including training for the registrar and staff, along with costs for training officers of election, conducting elections and for voter education.

BUDGET PROCESS
Supervisors have not yet seen a draft budget for the upcoming fiscal year, 2013-14. This week at a work session (following our press time) they will be provided departmental budget requests and are expected to provide guidance to County Administrator Travis Quesenberry for his development of a proposed budget to be presented next month.

Firm budget figures from the state are slow to trickle in. Those are expected to be provided to localities later this week to indicate the effect of the budget amendments adopted late last week by the General Assembly for the upcoming fiscal year.

Phyllis Cook

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