B-136028, JUN. 17, 1958

B-136028: Jun 17, 1958

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THESE POSITIONS AT THAT TIME WERE ON A PART-TIME BASIS AT ANNUAL SALARIES OF $7. THIS INCREASE ALSO WAS EFFECTIVE ON JULY 1. - IT WAS NOT POSSIBLE TO INCREASE THEIR SALARIES TO THE FULL-TIME RATES IMMEDIATELY BECAUSE OF INSUFFICIENT FUNDS. FOR THE SAME REASON IT WAS NECESSARY TO DEFER THE SALARY INCREASE AUTHORIZED FOR THE PART-TIME REFEREE AT DECATUR. 500 IN ADDITIONAL FUNDS WAS SUBMITTED TO THE CONGRESS FOR INCLUSION IN THE SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION BILL. 000 OF THE AMOUNT AND THAT IS THE AMOUNT INCLUDED IN THE SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION ACT. 000 IS SUFFICIENT TO PAY THE ADDITIONAL AMOUNTS ONLY FROM AUGUST 28. THERE NOW ARE SAVINGS IN THE REGULAR APPROPRIATION ARISING FROM LAPSES AND OUT OF WHICH THE ADDITIONAL AMOUNTS CAN BE PAID TO THE REFEREES FOR THE PERIOD JULY 1.

B-136028, JUN. 17, 1958

TO HONORABLE WARREN OLNEY III, DIRECTOR, ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF UNITED STATES COURTS:

ON APRIL 30, 1958, THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR REQUESTED OUR DECISION UPON THE QUESTION WHETHER ADDITIONAL SALARY MAY BE PAID TO CERTAIN REFEREES IN BANKRUPTCY FOR THE PERIOD JULY 1, 1957, TO AUGUST 28, 1957, UNDER THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES HEREINAFTER RELATED.

ON JUNE 30, 1957, THE TERMS OF OFFICE OF THE REFEREES IN BANKRUPTCY IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTS AT CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA AND CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE EXPIRED. THESE POSITIONS AT THAT TIME WERE ON A PART-TIME BASIS AT ANNUAL SALARIES OF $7,500, WHICH PREVIOUSLY HAD BEEN FIXED BY THE JUDICIAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 40A AND B OF THE BANKRUPTCY ACT, 11 U.S.C. 68A AND 68B. THAT STATUTE PLACES A MAXIMUM LIMITATION OF $7,500 PER ANNUM ON THE PER ANNUM SALARY WHICH MAY BE FIXED FOR PART-TIME REFEREES AND A MAXIMUM OF $15,000 ON THE PER ANNUM SALARY WHICH MAY BE FIXED FOR FULL-TIME REFEREES.

IN MARCH 1957, THE JUDICIAL CONFERENCE AUTHORIZED THE CHANGING OF THE TWO POSITIONS FROM PART-TIME TO FULL-TIME SIX-YEAR TERMS BEGINNING JULY 1, 1957, THE SALARIES THEREOF BEING FIXED AT $12,500 PER ANNUM EACH EFFECTIVE THE SAME DATE. AT THE SAME TIME THE JUDICIAL CONFERENCE AUTHORIZED AN INCREASE IN THE COMPENSATION OF THE PART-TIME REFEREE IN BANKRUPTCY AT DECATUR, ALABAMA, FROM $2,500 TO $4,000 PER ANNUM BECAUSE OF THE INCREASING VOLUME OF BANKRUPTCY IN HIS COURT. THIS INCREASE ALSO WAS EFFECTIVE ON JULY 1, 1957.

ALTHOUGH THE CHARLESTON AND CHATTANOOGA REFEREES ASSUMED FULL-TIME DUTIES ON JULY 1, 1957--- HAVING GIVEN UP THEIR PRIVATE LAW PRACTICE AS REQUIRED BY 11 U.S.C. 67B--- IT WAS NOT POSSIBLE TO INCREASE THEIR SALARIES TO THE FULL-TIME RATES IMMEDIATELY BECAUSE OF INSUFFICIENT FUNDS, NO ESTIMATES FOR THE FULL-TIME SALARIES HAVING BEEN INCLUDED IN THE BUDGET ESTIMATES FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1958, WHICH HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN SUBMITTED. FOR THE SAME REASON IT WAS NECESSARY TO DEFER THE SALARY INCREASE AUTHORIZED FOR THE PART-TIME REFEREE AT DECATUR, ALABAMA.

THEREFORE, A REQUEST FOR $11,500 IN ADDITIONAL FUNDS WAS SUBMITTED TO THE CONGRESS FOR INCLUSION IN THE SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION BILL, 1958. THE HOUSE APPROPRIATION COMMITTEE WOULD NOT APPROVE THE ADDITIONAL FUNDS BECAUSE IT FELT THAT THE ITEM SHOULD BE A PART OF THE REGULAR ANNUAL APPROPRIATION BILL RATHER THAN A SUPPLEMENTAL REQUEST. HOUSE REPORT NO. 1009 AT PAGE 38. HOWEVER, THE SENATE RESTORED $10,000 OF THE AMOUNT AND THAT IS THE AMOUNT INCLUDED IN THE SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION ACT, 1958.

THE $10,000 IS SUFFICIENT TO PAY THE ADDITIONAL AMOUNTS ONLY FROM AUGUST 28, 1957, THROUGH JUNE 30, 1958, BUT THERE NOW ARE SAVINGS IN THE REGULAR APPROPRIATION ARISING FROM LAPSES AND OUT OF WHICH THE ADDITIONAL AMOUNTS CAN BE PAID TO THE REFEREES FOR THE PERIOD JULY 1, 1957, TO AUGUST 27, 1957, INCLUSIVE. IF OTHERWISE LEGAL, HOWEVER, A DOUBT ARISES WHETHER THE APPROPRIATION IS AVAILABLE FOR SUCH PAYMENTS.

WE NOTE THAT IN THE BUDGET ESTIMATES AS WELL AS IN THE HEARINGS BEFORE THE APPROPRIATE COMMITTEES OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, IT IS STATED THAT THE INCREASES IN THE SALARIES OF THE POSITIONS OF REFEREES WERE MADE EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1957, SUBJECT TO THE PROCUREMENT OF THE NECESSARY SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION. HOWEVER, WE FIND NO INDICATION IN THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE JUDICIAL CONFERENCE IMPOSING ANY CONDITION UPON THE NEW SALARY RATES. THE SOLE AUTHORITY FOR FIXING THE SALARIES OF THE REFEREES IN BANKRUPTCY IS VESTED IN THE JUDICIAL CONFERENCE BY STATUTE AND ONCE THE CONFERENCE TAKES SUCH ACTION NOTHING FURTHER REMAINS TO BE DONE EXCEPT ACTION OF A MINISTERIAL NATURE. SINCE THE CONFERENCE FIXED THE NEW SALARIES OF THE POSITIONS PRIOR TO JULY 1, 1957, TO BE EFFECTIVE ON THAT DATE, THERE IS NO QUESTION OF THE SALARIES BEING MADE EFFECTIVE AT ANY RETROACTIVE DATE. THEREFORE, OUR VIEW IS THAT THE NEW SALARY RATES FIXED BY THE JUDICIAL CONFERENCE EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1957, BECAME THE ONLY LEGAL SALARIES FOR THE POSITIONS AT THAT TIME AND OTHERWISE WOULD HAVE BEEN PAYABLE UNTIL FUNDS THEREFOR BECAME EXHAUSTED.

WE FIND NOTHING IN THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION ACT, 1958, WHICH IN ANY WAY INDICATES THAT THE APPROPRIATION OF ONLY $10,000 OF THE AMOUNT REQUESTED, WAS INTENDED TO PRECLUDE THE USE OF REGULAR FUNDS TO MAKE UP THE DIFFERENCE IF SUCH FUNDS LATER BECOME AVAILABLE THROUGH SAVINGS.

WE THEREFORE CONCLUDE THAT THE SAVINGS IN THE REGULAR APPROPRIATION ARE PROPER FOR USE IN MAKING THE PAYMENTS OF THE ADDITIONAL AMOUNTS TO THE REFEREES FROM JULY 1, 1957, TO AUGUST 27, 1957, INCLUSIVE.