Tuesday, December 16, 2014

EDITORIAL >> Give judges raises in Lonoke County

Lonoke District Court Judge Teresa Smith wants a $5,000 raise for 2015, but the city council approved her request only as part of a preliminary budget that could easily be changed.

The judge’s $20,000 annual salary is split between the city and the county. Supposedly, the county has locked in its 2015 budget, and the quorum court might be reluctant to raise the salaries of all five district judges.

A state law passed last year allows for increases in judges’ salaries by up to $5,000. Smith is requesting the full amount for the part-time position.

As reporter Rick Kron explained, the council had no qualms about paying its half — $2,500. But the city had to turn in by Oct. 1 expenses the county will pay for next year. Smith’s request could still go through if the quorum court finds $12,500 more for all the judges.

That sort of raise shouldn’t break the county’s budget. It’s one good way to tell hard-working judges that they are appreciated.

They shouldn’t have to beg for a decent salary, even if it’s part time.