In the coming weeks, local petitioners will be looking for your signature. A group of concerned citizens, former politicians and at least one current magistrate have all come out in support of a petition that could lead to a change in county government.
Since January 2011, the Clark County Fiscal Court has operated as a three-member commission, with all court members running county-wide. A 2006 vote led to a change from the previous seven-member format.
It has also led to less representation for Clark County’s most rural areas. While current commissioners JoEllen Reed, Rick Smith and Vanessa Rogers, all have plenty of experience in local government, the task of representing Clark County is simply too much for three people, even three well qualified people.
With the current format, it is possible for all three court members to live within the city limits.
Representatives from within Winchester are certainly needed, but rural communities like Trapp also need fair representation.
While the change has led to some slight savings for the county, the money is not worth losing diversity and a broad range of opinions on the local court.
In 2010, the last year of the seven-member court, magistrates received $764.15 per month, plus $300 for expenses. Current salaries are $843.91, plus $300 for expenses, about .27 percent of the county’s approximately $15 million budget.
If the issue is going to make it back on the ballot in November, signatures from 1,200 registered voters are needed by the second Tuesday in August. The petitioners hope the signatures will eventually lead to a six-member magistrate court.
Even doubling the court, at current salaries, would only account for .4 percent of the county’s total budget. For salary and expenses, a six-member court would cost about $82,631 a year. In 2012, the county judge-executive alone will make $90,893. The deputy judge-executive is expected to make $54,106.
Simply put, money is not a factor. In lean economic times, it is easy to look to the cheapest option as the best, but when dealing with figures smaller than half a percent, that doesn’t make much sense.
The old adage, “You get what you pay for,” exists for a reason. In this case, Clark County residents are paying for three qualified representatives, but we could have more without burdening taxpayers.
Voluntarily giving up representation doesn’t make sense, but voters still have an opportunity to make a change.
Sign the petition and get this issue on the ballot.