Clark Countians weren’t fond of the commissioner format for the Clark County Fiscal Court and voted to change it after just more than a year of operation.
Voters chose “Yes” Tuesday to the question on the ballot on changing the Fiscal Court from three commissioners and a county judge-executive to six magistrates and a county judge-executive. The commission form of government had only been in operation since January of 2011. The new magistrate form will take effect in 2015.
The “Yes” option got more than 60 percent of the total vote with 7,633 to 4,899.
In 2006, Clark County voted to move from a seven-magistrate form of government to a three-commissioner form after Leland “Tubby” True led an effort to get the question on that year’s ballot. The measure passed with 4,985 votes, about 59 percent, in favor of the change and 3,467, 41 percent, voted against it.
The massive swing of votes in just six years could lend credibility to the claim some have made that the original question in 2006 was misunderstood.
“I think maybe there’s some truth to some people saying back in 2006 a lot of people did not know how to vote on the question or what they were voting on,” County Judge-Executive Henry Branham said.
In July, a group led by former magistrates Joe McCord and Pam Blackburn championed a petition that allowed voters to revisit the question of Fiscal Court structure in the coming weeks. The petitioners argued that the current system cannot adequately represent the entire county, in particular, rural communities.
The expansion of the court could hamper an already strapped budget, opponents argued. Doubling the number of elected officials increases not only salaries but reimbursement money, health insurance, retirement and training incentives.
Now that the voters have chosen the change, the work falls into the hands of the current Fiscal Court, which must structure the new form of government before the next election cycle for the court.
“The sitting court will have to divide the districts up into six, and we have to do that before this term ends,” Branham said. “We also have to set the salaries for the new magistrates.
“We have a little work to do before the elections.”