Counties across the state are convening their compensation boards.
State law requires the board in ach county to annually consider the salary paid to the county treasurer, county clerk and recorder, clerk of the district court, county assessor, county superintendent of schools, county sheriff, justice of the peace, county coroner, county auditor and, if the position exists, county surveyor.
With the exception of some simple forumlas written into the law for long-term service bonuses, state-mandated salary for the county sheriff, and a requirement that compensation not fall below 2001 levels, the board has a great deal of leeway.
The statute mandates the boards to consist of the county commissioners, three of the affected county officials, the county attorney and two to four resident taxpayers.
The Dawson County board met on Monday. The board considered formulas simliar to those given to county employees. Last year no cost of living was allotted, however a 1% longevity bonus was put in place.
Commission Chair Doug Buxbaum expressed concern about percentage increased as opposed to an across the board increase by dollars and cents. He noted “The top gets more, bottom gets less when you go percentage.”
Clerk and Recorder Shirley Krieman crunched numbers and recommended a 35 cent an hour across the board increase, which passed. The increase includes an across the board average of a 1.6% cost of living increase and 1% longevity bonus. The increase in total will add about $9,000 to the Dawson County Budget, however it is contingent on the amount the county will receive in property valuations. Those figures will not be available to county commissioners until August.
The audio to the left of this column is Krieman’s explanation of how she arrived at the 35 cent per hour increase.
Commissioner Jim Skillstead said it is important that salaries be kept up because retention at the county has been difficult. He noted that the county road department just lost two employees because of monetary opportunties in the private sector in the region. He also said he expects to see an increase in the mill value because of the area boom. The Compensation Board’s charge, however is to examine salaries of county officers only.
Commissioner Gartner noted that the challenge regarding energy impacts on the budget is that “We’re not going to realize in this fiscal year anything from the oil even while the impact is going to be on the local cost of living now.”
Sheriff Craig Anderson noted that local landlords and hotels are seeing the benefit of the boom now.
The committee passed a 35 cent raise for county officials with Sheriff Anderson abstaining from voting on any pay raise for himself because it is already mandated by state law. Anderson did vote in favor of of all other pay raises.