Lyon County moves forward on judges pay raise

YERINGTON - Lyon County justices of the peace will receive a requested pay increase but not as quickly as some had wanted.

Lyon County commissioners last week increased by $2,000 the base pay for the four justices. That the raise will not become effective until Jan. 1, 2001, did not make Dayton Justice of the Peace Ed Johnson particularly happy. Johnson is not seeking reelection and will retire December 31 of this year.

"I personally would like to see it be effective July 1, 2000, so I am not pleased with the date. Everything else is calculated July 1, including the annual 2 per cent longevity benefit," Johnson said. "But I am pleased it went the way we requested. The last increase was in 1989-90. We were trying to be as reasonable as we could. This puts us more in line with other elected officials."

By state statute, local governing entities set the salaries for justices of the peace. Salaries of all other elected officials are set by the Legislature.

The justices are paid based on the number of days they work each week. The increases raised the base figure to $12,000.

Johnson, for example, works five days a week and would have had a base salary of $60,000. Fernley's Steve Lehman works four days as a justice, so his base salary will be $48,000. Mason Valley's Dennis Milligan works three days and will receive $36,000 and Smith Valley justice Fran White will make $24,000 for her two days in court.

Judges also receive an annual 2 per cent longevity benefits and county cost of living increases. Lehman receives additional compensation as county juvenile master, and White also serves as Yerington's justice of the peace.

All four justice positions are up for election this year.

Commissioners will move forward with renovation and expansion plans for the four court facilities beginning with Fernley Justice Court. The Fernley project will include a building expansion to accommodate the district attorney, juvenile probation officer and juvenile master at an estimated cost of about $280,000.

County Manager Stephen Snyder said funding for the projects would be divided equally between the County Administrative Assessment Fund and local justice court Administrative Assessment funds.

"We will go ahead and put together the Fernley plans. Once we get an estimate we will come back for board approval. We will start developing concept plans for Dayton and Smith Valley and as funds become available we will then move forward with those projects," he said.

Snyder said the county is anticipating that upon completion of the new county office building adjacent to the current courthouse complex in Yerington, Juvenile Probation will move out of the current law enforcement complex on Nevin Way and into the new facility, opening up additional space for Mason Valley Justice Court expansion at the Nevin Way site.

Judge Johnson said tentative plans for the Dayton court include adding to the north side of the historic Bluestone Building into the current parking lot, including the digging of a basement.

"We would like to use the basement for storage and the upper level for additional office space. The courtroom would stay the same," Johnson explained.

He said they would like to keep the appearance of the new addition as historical accurate as possible. Additional land would be acquired to provide for the lost parking area.


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