County agenda: Qualifications and pay for magistrates, library expansion

With a light agenda for Thursday night, the Fayette County Commission is expected to approve a $715,000 expansion for the Fayette County Library in downtown Fayetteville and pay for it with long-designated sales tax proceeds.

The project will add 1,000 square feet to the library’s meeting room and another 4,200 square feet to extend the southeast side of the existing facility to create a new reading room and also create room for more bookshelves.

The county received 10 bids for the work, and county staff is recommending Trammel-Horton Contracting to be awarded the project. Trammel was selected based on the evaluation criteria and also because it had the lowest proposed price for the work.

The expansion is being funded with SPLOST funds from a number of years ago, a percentage of which was set aside for improvements to the library. The project is expected to exhaust the remaining funds in that account, officials have said previously.

The meeting room addition will not only add more room for seating but also makes room for a fixed stage to be installed. Also, the reading room will include some tables and study areas along with several meeting rooms for private groups to study together.

Also on the agenda for Thursday night is a resolution to seek local legislation for changes dealing with the Magistrate Court of Fayette County.

One of the changes would tie the salaries of Fayette County’s four part-time magistrate judges to the salary scale for superior court judges. The chief magistrate would be compensated an amount equal to 17 percent of the superior court judge base salary, while the other three magistrates would be compensated at 14 percent of that amount.

Tying the salaries to those of superior court judges in essence means that the magistrates will get automatic pay raises when the legislature authorizes pay raises for superior court judges.

The proposed resolution also would change the process for appointing replacement magistrates in the middle of a particular term. The chief magistrate would be allowed to appoint someone to fill any unexpired term, “with the consent of the judges of superior court.”

The resolution also would change the qualifications for a magistrate to a minimum age of 25, with the candidate being a citizen of Georgia for at least three years and having practiced law for seven years, “or has served as a judge of the Magistrate Court of Fayette County in good standing for seven or more years.”

The proposed changes would in effect make it impossible for a non-lawyer to become a magistrate.

The legislation change would have to be approved ultimately by the Georgia Legislature.

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