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Perdue: Bill will save county money

In his 17 years in office, Probate Judge Jim Perdue could have made more money.

He spoke to commissioners about the proposed senate and house bills that would raise his salary by more than $12,800.

If Perdue is elected another term and State Senate Bill 369 and it’s House counterpart, HB 447, pass, his 2019 salary will be $100,957.

Salaries would be based on a percentage of the salary of a state district court judge according to the population of the county, and would be adjusted based on years of service. It also includes a guaranteed step increase each year. If a probate judge currently is paid more than the new figure his salary would not be impacted by the bill.

“The whole point is this is a fair compensation bill. The bill says if the commission gives raises to all employees, elected officials get one, too,” Perdue said. “It’s a straight path.”

Perdue said the current system gives commissioners control over his salary, which has caused problems for other probate judges.

“It’s unusual that another elected official would determine what I make,” he said. “It’s not a problem in Crenshaw County. It’s really not.”

If Perdue does not seek another term, he said the county would end up saving money, with a base pay that is $5,000 less than his current salary.

“It would start at $83,263 and go up every year. It wouldn’t be until 2065 that the judge would make more than I now get,” he said.

“Next term, if I should run again, it would increase my salary a bit.”

Perdue said he has been saving the county money by not taking advantage of a bonus probate judges are allowed to collect each election. He is allowed a nickel a name every election for preparing the voting lists, but has only collected the fee a couple of times.

“It’s a fair bill, not a dangerous bill,” Perdue told commissioners. “I would hope you consider supporting it.”

According to the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, the proposed bill would cost the state an additional $1.3 million. Crenshaw commissioners are members of the organization, which is lobbying against the bill.

“This is definitely another side of the picture,” said Commissioner Merrill Sport, District 3.

Commission Chair Charlie Sankey said the reason the ACCA is against the proposed bills is because it would hurt poor counties like Barbour and Bullock. Barbour would have to nearly double its probate judge’s salary, from $52,500 to $102,295.

Perdue said it was politics. For instance, he had earned the county $650,000 by increasing the price of tags, profits that would more than cover any raise he stood to gain.

“Politics got us where we are,” answered Sankey.