CHARLESTON - House Majority Leader Brent Boggs said he hopes the Senate will move forward legislation to equalize the salaries for county magistrates.
“Rural magistrates – many of whom actually have larger caseloads than those in more heavily populated counties with multiple magistrates to share the work – should not be penalized for living in smaller counties,” the Majority Leader said. “As the lead sponsor of this bill, and as someone who has been working on this issue for years, I know that magistrates in my home county of Braxton and many other rural magistrates have a higher per-magistrate caseload than those in Kanawha County, who make thousands more per year.
“It’s simply unfair.”
House Bill 4392 would provide that all magistrates, magistrate assistants, magistrate court clerks and deputy clerks be paid equally, and eliminate the current two-tier system that ties salary to county population.
The legislation was requested by the Supreme Court of Appeals Administrative Office. The 2010 Census notes a decrease in population for Lewis, McDowell, Wetzel and Wyoming Counties. If the Legislature fails to pass legislation equalizing the magistrate court system in regard to pay, the magistrate court personnel's salary in those four counties will be reduced January 1, 2013,
Under the legislation, which the House adopted last week, all magistrates, regardless of population served, would be paid $57,500. All magistrate court clerks, $44,720; magistrate assistants, $39,348; and magistrate court deputy clerks, $39,348.
“I don’t see how there could be opposition to leveling the playing field,” Boggs said.