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story.lead_photo.caption Dennis Milligan

State Treasurer Dennis Milligan wants to boost the maximum-authorized salaries of his two chief deputy treasurers by 6 percent to $111,295 and increase the high end of the range of salaries for his other employees by up to 2.8 percent in the coming fiscal year.

The Republican treasurer also proposes to reclassify the position of the chief spokesman for his office. That new position would have a maximum salary of $74,016, which is more than $20,000 above the maximum for her current post.

Milligan has proposed reducing part of his office's current operating budget of $5.37 million to put more money into salaries and benefits, so the total budget would remain the same in fiscal 2020, which starts July 1. Milligan proposed reducing his professional-fees budget from the current $194,375 to $50,000 in fiscal 2020, while increasing the regular salaries budget for his office's 33 employees by $87,103 to $2.35 million and raising the budget for their benefits by $18,612 to $713,709, according to legislative records.

But Rep. Les Eaves, R-Searcy, said Thursday that the Legislature's personnel subcommittee on Wednesday rejected Milligan's request to raise salary and benefit levels.

Lawmakers are currently reviewing proposed budgets of agencies and then directing legislative staff members to draft appropriations to be considered in the regular session starting Jan. 14.

During a meeting of the Legislative Council and Joint Budget Committee, Eaves, who is a co-chairman of the personnel subcommittee, said lawmakers want to be transparent about Milligan's proposal on salary increases. The proposal could be amended into the office's appropriation during the session.

Sen. Terry Rice, R-Waldron, said he thinks there are some employees in Milligan's office who deserve pay raises.

Eaves said he feels the same way, but he wants everybody to know what's being proposed.

Afterward, Grant Wallace, chief deputy treasurer for programs and services, said senior investment manager Ed Garner is in the highest-paid position in the treasurer's office. He said Milligan wants to raise the salaries for the posts held by Wallace, Garner and Jason Brady, chief deputy treasurer for operations, to be equal at $111,295 in fiscal 2020.

The maximum salary for Garner's post is $108,581 a year, while the maximum for Wallace's and Brady's jobs are $105,000, according to the treasurer's office. Garner is paid $108,000, while Brady and Wallace are paid $104,500, according to the Arkansas Transparency website.

The treasurer's chief spokesman, Stacy Peterson, is paid $53,599 a year, according to the transparency website. Milligan proposes to increase the salary maximum from $53,750 to $74,016, according to his office. Wallace said Peterson is underpaid compared with people in similar positions in state government, but the proposed increase doesn't guarantee her pay would go up that much.

Wallace said the salary maximums for the treasurer's office employees haven't changed in the past year, and Milligan wants to grant raises to his employees comparable to those given to employees in other state constitutional offices and in state government.

"We are proposing increases to everyone's line item maximums (the max that they can be paid)," Wallace said in an email to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette when asked if all of the office's employees would receive raises to the top levels if approved by the Legislature. "As for individual raises, I would expect some increases, but how that will be handled has yet to be determined."

Photo by Cary Jenkins
Les Eaves

Metro on 11/16/2018

Print Headline: Arkansas treasurer seeks to raise aides' pay

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