Council sets judges pay, tightens up timecard provision
The Columbus Town Council held a special meeting Dec. 8 to discuss compensation and other matters related to the newly-appointed city judge.
The council appointed Justice of the Peace-elect Lee Cornell as city judge at the Dec. 1 meeting.
Barndt told the council that retiring city court judge Marilyn Kober is currently being paid $44.49 per hour. Kober is paid for 9.7 hours of work every two weeks.
Kober never submitted time sheets, Barndt said. Long ago the council wanted to know how many hours she was here. The average of 9.7 hours every two weeks is what was come up with, he said.
Barndt said he had checked with other towns in the area that are doing similar things with their judge. The pay range for city judges at other towns is between $15 and $29 per hour, he said.
Council member Terry Nystul said that $29 per hour rounded up to $30 per hour is still only two-thirds of what the previous judge made. He said that sounded like a reasonable starting point.
Council member Harold Houghton said he thought Nystul’s suggestion was too high for a new judge.
The council first approved setting the city judge salary at $25 per hour and the salary for pro tem judges at $20 per hour. Pro tem judges are currently paid $25 per hour, plus mileage and travel time.
After some discussion about the pro tem pay rate the motion was recalled and a new motion made to set the city judge salary at $25 per hour. The pay for pro tem judges was not addressed.
Town Attorney Doug Howard said the council could leave the pro tem pay up to the judge. If he needed to call in a pro tem judge he could decide how much to pay.
Mayor Gary Woltermann suggested leaving the matter to the judge. Woltermann said if the judge wants to pay less then he can. The council can readdress it at budget time, he said.
The council also plans to require time sheets from the new city judge. Since Kober never turned in time sheets the council has no way of knowing how many hours to expect Cornell will need to work.
Barndt strongly suggested the council require time sheets for the new judge. He also said the new judge will need time to see how long the job will take.
Council member Patti Sundberg said since it is a new position it will take longer to do everything.
The time sheet is going to be key, Barndt said.
Howard said the judge’s job is not just Thursday afternoon in court. It varies, he said. The job also includes bench trials, search warrants, and arraignments. It is hard to come up with a certain number of hours, he said.
Woltermann said he thinks the council should encourage the judge to attend at least one council meeting each month.
Houghton said he would also like to see a written report about what is going on from the judge.