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Sheriff may get $20K raise soon

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors is asking the legislature to approve a measure that could result in a $20,000 raise for Sheriff Chuck Mayfield.

The legislation, which the board authorized attorney Scott Slover to draft this week, will allow the board to compensate Mayfield for taking over as administrator of the Adams County Juvenile Detention Center, a move that has not yet happened but was discussed extensively during the supervisors’ 2012-2013 budget planning sessions earlier this year.

Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said the board is barred by statute from adjusting the sheriff’s salary.

“Any time you provide any additional money to an elected official, you have to get legislative permission for that,” he said.

“(The sheriff) wants to be remunerated properly for taking on those additional priorities, and I can understand it. He is taking on additional work, additional stress and so forth, and I can understand it from that angle.”

The sheriff’s current salary is approximately $82,000 annually.

Mayfield said the proposed $20,000 number was reached through negotiations several months ago, but the number is not set in stone.

“There is a lot more responsibility, a lot more liability, and to take on something like that, I would have to be reimbursed for my time, liability and exposure,” he said.

Slover said that even if the legislation passes, it doesn’t automatically go into effect.

The legislature will have to pass the measure first, then the Adams County Youth Court — which oversees the juvenile justice facility — would have to appoint the sheriff as the official administrator.

Only then would the supervisors be able to approve the change in salary, Slover said.

“If we get the ability to increase the sheriff’s salary, it doesn’t mean we will,” he said.

The former youth facility administrator, Glenn Arnold, retired earlier this year and was being paid a salary of approximately $40,000, Slover said.

“We were basically eliminating his spot, so (the $20,000) wasn’t an increase in the overall budget,” he said.

Having sheriff’s deputies working in the youth center will lend itself to a greater efficiency in guarding and transportation of youth offenders, Slover said, and deputies won’t have to stay at the center 24/7 like the current youth center guards do if no prisoners are present.

When the supervisors were discussing the future of the juvenile justice center earlier in the year, one of the concerns cited was the cost of running the center versus the inmate census, which at times may be only one or two youth offenders.

The supervisors also discussed the possibility that the sheriff could use his contacts with other counties to increase the census by housing out-of-county youth offenders there. State and federal law requires that juvenile prisoners not be housed within sight or sound of adult prisoners, and many counties do not have facilities that meet those criteria available. Adams County is recouped for housing juveniles from other counties.

If the legislation is passed and local officials do appoint Mayfield administrator, the board of supervisors still has the authority to close the center, and the youth court still has the right to appoint someone else administrator at a later date, Slover said.

Mayfield said he has been waiting for the board and the youth court to come to a final decision about the matter, but he is ready to take over the youth center.

“We have already assessed it, and we have a plan of action that would make it a really fluid transition with no change or break in the oversight of the facility,” he said.