Do magistrates make $600 an hour? Of course not. Unfortunately that’s what it often looks like to the public. Here’s why.
Four months ago, I proposed that Anderson County Fiscal Court begin livestreaming their twice-per-month meetings as many Fiscal Courts around Kentucky have been doing for some time.
Magistrates Lewis, Montgomery, and Riley voted yes, but Durr recused and the proposal did not pass. Some court members stated they needed more information, that upgraded internet and equipment was too expensive, and that they had not heard from citizens who want livestreaming.
Within the 2 minutes citizens are allowed to speak, I then provided the Court with information showing upgraded internet and equipment are not that expensive, as well as a list of 133 citizens requesting that meetings be video recorded and made public. There was no response and no discussion.
Two more months went by.
On December 10th — ten days in advance of their last meeting for 2022 — I sent a detailed email to the Court requesting the following be added to the Dec. 20 agenda:
1. New vote on live-streaming.
2. Elimination of the 2 minute speaking limit.
3. Decrease the cost for copies of Fiscal Court minutes from 50 cents to 10 cents per page. Or, better yet, eliminate this cost altogether by simply posting the minutes on their website (as other courts do) or emailing the minutes which have already been bundled into a packet for the magistrates.
None of these items appeared on the Dec. 20 agenda*.
The meeting lasted about 30 minutes.
For the last year and a half, I have attended many Fiscal Court meetings. These meetings typically last less than an hour.
This means we pay our six magistrates $1,200 each, per month, to meet publicly for about two hours. With the exception of Magistrate Lewis, whose term has ended, the public very rarely hears them start or hold a discussion, so it appears they make about $600 an hour — plus $150/month expense account, plus access to healthcare — and yet they can’t afford to video record meetings or more-reasonably provide copies of the minutes?
Meanwhile you, the taxpaying citizen, are only allowed to speak to them for 2 minutes.
That is one heck of a gig.
* The December 20 meeting was deemed “Special Called.” At Special Called meetings, only items officially on the agenda can be discussed. Which is why I emailed the Court 10 days in advance, asking that these items be added to the official agenda.