LANCASTER — Garrard County Fiscal Court shot down the county’s proposed 2012-13 budget 3-2 on Monday after several magistrates raised questions about the salary of county Economic Development Director Nathan Mick.
Garrard Judge-Executive John Wilson called the action “a cheap shot” and a last-minute attempt to damage Mick’s campaign for the 36th District state representative seat.
Mick faces off against Lancaster farmer Jonathan Shell next Tuesday for the Republican nomination for the seat. The winner will run against Democrat Bradley “Bud” Montgomery in November to fill retiring Rep. Lonnie Napier’s seat. Wilson and Napier have endorsed Mick for the position.
Magistrates Betty Holtzclaw, Joe Leavell and Fred Simpson voted against the first reading of the proposed $10.3 million county budget. Magistrates Doan Adkison and Ronnie Lane voted in favor of the proposed budget.
Wilson had recommended all county department heads receive a 2-percent cost-of-living increase.
Simpson said in a telephone interview that several magistrates simply wanted to find out how much money Mick earns and how his job is funded. Mick currently earns about $68,500 annually; under the proposed budget he would earn $69,360. The money comes from the county’s general fund, according to Wilson.
“Nathan did not ask for any pay increase,” Wilson said. “I’m disappointed that magistrates chose to bring this up right after Nathan got good publicity (regarding the possibility of a grocery store coming back to Lancaster.)”
Simpson said asking questions about Mick’s pay was difficult because usually everyone gets along.
“I am very complimentary about how John’s run the county,” Simpson said. “But this (Mick’s salary) was information people kept asking us, and we did not know.”
Holtzclaw said her actions were not politically motivated.
“I just wanted answers,” Holtzclaw said. “Now that I know, I do think the salary he (Mick) is getting is too high.”
Mick did not attend the meeting but said in a telephone interview he hopes people will see his commitment to Garrard’s prosperity. Last year, Rockcastle County offered him a similar job that would have paid him $77,500 a year, given him a new car and a paid full-time assistant, according to Mick.
“I didn’t take that job because I love Garrard County,” Mick said.
Wilson said none of the magistrates has asked questions about Mick’s salary or other county salaries in the past several weeks since he distributed documents related to the planned budget. He said because of Mick’s work as economic development director, the county has received $8 million of private investments in the past year. Neighboring counties of similar sizes spend far more on economic development, according to Wilson.
Salary — $46,350