By ALICIA LEONARD
Politics is a dirty game some say, but with the exception of Walton County Commissioners and Walton County School Board Members, local elected officials pull in a nice amount of dough compared to many residents of Walton County. Upon a reader’s suggestion, The Herald made a public records request to find out how much politics is worth and what benefits come with the job.
Salaries of elected county constitutional officers and school district officials for the fiscal year 2011-2012 and every year are set pursuant to the salary formula in Chapter 145 of the Florida Statutes. Every new fiscal year, every county in Florida gets the formula and amount to pay their elected officials from the state.
A brief rundown, across the board for local elected officers and officals are as follows: The Clerk of Courts’ salary is $101,174; Property Appraiser $101,174; Tax Collector $101,174; Supervisor of Elections $84,035; Sheriff $109,770; County Commissioners $29,132; School Superintendent $101,174 and School Board Members $25,146.
A public records request of Walton County Commissioners’ pay records reveals how they break down their pay per month. The chairman of the Commission receives a little extra over other that of commissioners. Our calculations through pay stubs indicates the difference is $115.38 per month or $1, 384.56 per year after deductions. Chairman Brannon brings home $3,044.38 gross income plus $1,027.19 in travel pay monthly for a total of $4,071.57. After deductions for retirement, health insurance, disability, federal withholding and such that are available to all state and county employees, Brannon receives $3,088.72 per month or $37,064.64 per year after deductions.
Commissoners Pridgen, Larry Jones, Sara Comander and Cecilia Jones all recieve a base salary of $2,929 per month plus travel allowances of $1,027.86 added to their first paycheck of the month to equal $3,956.86 gross salary. After monthly deductions for benefits and taxes, the commissioners’ monthly take-home pay comes to the following: Cecilia Jones, $3,208.42; Comander, $3,269.29; Pridgen, $2,734.59; Larry Jones, $3,003.09.
Commisoners Larry Jones and Pridgen pay $497.30 per month for health insurance and with an added family plan of $153.06 per month their insurance costs a total $650.36 per month. Larry Jones and Pridgen also pay for an extra Blue Option Family deduction at $172.23 per check, or $344.46 per month. The other comissoners, Comander, Cecilia Jones, and Brannon pay $497.30 a month for their coverage or $248.65 per check. All costs are deducted before giving a the total net amount of take-home pay listed in paragraphs above.
The Herald will continue this series in upcoming weeks, all the way to the top of the heap and what benefits national and state politicians collect for the jobs they do.