Public safety and related local judiciary issues made up the main course on the plate set before Carson City’s Board of Supervisors on Thursday, including higher pay for two judges.
After almost a decade of no changes, base pay for the two judge-justice of the peace positions in Carson City will increase to $115,000 each at mid-year and to $125,000 on July 1, 2015, due to unanimous action by the board. Court administrator Max Costes told the board that judges John Tatro and Tom Armstrong, the affected jurists, are paid well below the average in their field and take on a heavy workload.
“These two judges do the work of four judges,” she said. She also said the money involved, though technically from the city’s general fund, actually is pass-through money from the court system.
The board also unanimously approved spending $123,600 from money generated by civil litigation filing fees to remodel a third courtroom, which was characterized at least in part as a need based on both security and coping with workload to promote efficiency. Tatro and Armstrong also testified, saying it could help stave off the need for a third judge/justice despite the workload, which will save money.
But board members balked when Cortes sought $24,999 to help complete a gated and secured parking area for the Juvenile Court, which was put forth as a safety and security issue for jurists and court employees there. The vote was 4-1 against immediately financing the plan, but an immediate unanimous vote also was taken that basically invites submission of the same plan for consideration in the regular capital improvement budget.
In essence, that means the proposal has a shot but will take its chances in March and beyond. The decision then will be whether board members will back it as a priority despite it being just one plan among the considerable number of capital projects competing for the small amount of capital improvement general fund money available next fiscal year.
The board decided without dissent to approve Sheriff Ken Furlong’s intention to hire a civilian supervising criminalist now that the senior forensic specialist, an officer, is retiring. Furlong told the board it should save about $5,000, though he couldn’t provide specifics until the hire takes place.
The mayor and supervisors also approved Furlong’s plan to hire two deputies and reduce the number of supervisory personnel under his command now that a captain also is retiring, something that drew praise from Supervisor Brad Bonkowski. Furlong said it would give him “two new front-line officers.”
The board began the process of rubber-stamping a previous action in which they expanded the number of citizens serving on the 911 Surcharge Committee, a panel that had been five members strong but was expanded to six because of qualified applicants. Preliminary approval was given to ordinance language changes, which will be adopted finally in two weeks, so the panel expansion can be done.
The panel will advise on upgrading 911 emergency communications system hardware and software with money from the surcharge, which runs a quarter per month on phones of Carson City residents. The upgrade is expected to cost about $1 million.