The Pulaski County Council still isn’t ready to give the county’s chief deputy coroner a pay raise. Jon Frain has apparently been getting less than $150 per month for the job, even though more than four times that amount has been available in the coroner’s budget.
During Tuesday’s council meeting, member Ken Boswell moved to increase the chief deputy coroner’s pay to 82 percent of what the coroner makes, which would mean just under $8,000 a year for Frain. That would bring the Coroner’s Office in line with the pay structure used in most other county departments, as outlined by the county’s salary matrix. “So I think, looking at all other elected officials and their chief deputies, this holds in line, so it makes it fair and consistent across the board,” Boswell said. “So we’re following our own rules and our own system that we put in place. Now if we don’t like that system or we think it needs to be changed, we can look, use next year as a learning time to figure out, ‘Is this the right way to handle this position?’ because it’s a little different, considering both people are part-time.”
But since the pay adjustment wasn’t on the prepared meeting agenda and with only four of the seven members present, Council President Jay Sullivan suggested holding off. “I think we need to take it under advisement and come back,” he said. “I don’t know that we can make a [motion]. Well, we could, I suppose, but I don’t think it’d be the pertinent thing to do right now. I mean, I just got your email today or yesterday. I don’t know when you sent it out. But anyway, I think we need to think about it a little bit, take it under advisement, and let all the board members have a chance to digest it a little bit.”
In the end, Boswell’s motion died for lack of a second.
Still, he hoped the council would take action soon. “Irrelevant of who’s doing the position or who’s the coroner or the chief deputy coroner or whatever, you know, $1,000, $1,700, less than $2,000 isn’t going to pay,” Boswell said. “I certainly wouldn’t be looking at it, and anybody in their right mind, I don’t think, will ever want to do it. If so, kudos to them; they serve better than I.”
Sullivan noted that some other issues in the county budget would have to be addressed for the raise to happen. For one thing, the amount budgeted for a chief deputy coroner in 2019 has apparently been reduced to Frain’s current pay level. Sullivan also felt that a separate line item should be created for other deputies the coroner’s office may hire in the future.
The chief deputy coroner’s pay rate has been a source of contention for months. Frain briefly resigned from the Coroner’s Office but has since rejoined. Meanwhile, the county commissioners have formally voiced their support for giving Frain a pay raise.