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Budget hearing gets heated

A public hearing to discuss the proposed Fiscal Year 2011-12 budget became heated Wednesday, June 8 as department heads and elected officials discussed the $865,298 cuts made by commis- sioners and additional proposed cuts to Magistrate court suggested by commissioner Carol Bass. ’What I’m proposing is that we take the assistant judge position and make that a part time position and move that salary and any fringe benefits into the contingency fund.” Commissioners requested that Rep. Billy Maddox legislatively eliminate the magistrate judge position in Pike but were informed by him that was against the law until the elected term of the judge ends. Magistrate judge Marcia Callaway-Ingram was appointed to the position after former magistrate judge Priscilla Killingsworth was forced to resign and banned from ever seeking elective office in Georgia. ’We have fought over this for a year now. You are required by law to fund that existing full time salary for the remainder of this term. The Georgia Constitution specifically prohibits the extension of the county’s authority in matters affecting any elective county office, the salaries thereof, or the personnel thereof,’ she said. ‘The laws of Georgia clearly state that the county cannot decrease a judge’s position or salary mid-term. We are severely shorthanded, primarily because of the budget that was passed last year. Our citizens deserve a well-run Magistrate Office and we have worked long, hard hours to provide an open, fair and just Magistrate Court.”

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