Harrison County supervisors rescind controversial pay hikes

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Harrison County supervisors voted unanimously Monday to rescind the $20,000 pay raises they approved last week for two elected officials and the county administrator.

One week ago, with only three of the five supervisors present, the large pay hikes were given to Tax Collector David LaRosa, Tax Assessor Tal Flurry and County Administrator Pam Ulrich.

Supervisors wasted little time in addressing the controversial pay hikes. It was first on the agenda and approved with virtually no discussion.

But minutes later, another item dealing with pay hikes, did spark some strong reaction.

Supervisors addressed the $20,000 pay hikes first thing.

"To ask that we rescind the raises that were given to David LaRosa and our tax collector in the amount of twenty thousand dollars," said Supervisor Connie Rockco, who made the motion.

The motion was quickly amended to also rescind the raise given to County Administrator Pam Ulrich. She wrote supervisors a letter saying she could not accept the increase.

"Basically, it just said that I would like for them to rescind the previous order that they had done on Monday. Because I wanted them to look at the whole, the county as a whole," said Ulrich.

Supervisor Rockco read Ulrich's letter, but there was no discussion by the board on rescinding the raises.

Although the $20,000 pay hikes were disposed of in short order, that wasn't the end of the pay hike discussion.

An agenda item approving a salary increase for five county employees, mostly administrative positions, sparked the ire of the board president.

"This board considered and struggled with budgets as far as pay raises," Board President Marlin Ladner said. "We decided not to give any pay raises. I don't believe in these selective pay raises. And we're just starting the budget this month."

Administrator Ulrich said the raises were included in the new budget.

"There were pay raises approved in the last meeting other than the ones we rescinded today?" questioned the board president.

"Yes sir," said Administrator Ulrich.

"And who were they?" President Ladner asked.

"I don't know off the top of my head," Ulrich responded, "But they were from different departments. But it was within their departments and in their budget."

"I'd like to reconsider those pay raises as well. This is ridiculous," said the board president.

Supervisor Windy Swetman then made a motion.

"I move at this time that we table this until we can have further discussion," he said.

The motion to table was approved, with Board President Ladner voting "no."

Tax Collector David LaRosa, himself a former supervisor, told WLOX News, "The board did what it had to do, with all the public pressure on them."

LaRosa said he understands and respects the board's decision.

Tax Assessor Tal Flurry had no specific reaction to the board vote. He told WLOX News, "I love my job and have a great team behind me."

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