Linn Supervisors want a pay raise

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So it seems a majority of your Linn County Board of Supervisors are tired of being "part-time" help.

Maybe you remember, and maybe you don't, but in early 2008, supervisors were poised to get a healthy pay hike, even though the board had just been expanded from three to five members. That didn't sit well with a fair number of their constituents, who let them know it.

Stung by the criticism, the three board members at the time, Linda Langston, Lu Barron and Jim Houser, sought a way to cut their own pay, but were hemmed by state laws limiting their ability to change salary recommendations from the compensation board. So they came up with a novel plan to drop themselves to "part-time" status, (80 percent of full time) while still making more than $70,000 annually. Controversy averted.

An attempt, roughly a year later, to bump supervisor pay back to full-time was again met with strong opposition and dropped.

Will it fly this time? Rick Smith has the details:

John Harris, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, now says the job of supervisor is a full-time one and always has been, and as a result, he says a majority of the elected supervisors want to return their pay to that of full-time employees with salaries equal to the elected county auditor, treasurer and recorder.

 “It’s not a part-time job,” Harris told the Linn County Compensation Board this week.


“The job has changed dramatically from 10 years ago when I came on the board,” Langston said. The public policy issues have gotten more complex and the job requires a knowledge of finances and technology as well as good management skills, she said.

Harris and Langston said the move to 100 percent pay might be made incrementally, though Langston added that the county’s budget likely could handle the additional cost now, a cost which would add $92,953 a year to the budget at the current salary levels.

In the current year, each supervisor is being paid $74,362 a year in salary, an amount equal to 80 percent of the $92,953 salary of the county auditor, treasurer and recorder.

Harris is right. It's not a part-time job. And $74,362 isn't a part-time salary. It's a salary that exceeds the median household income in Linn County, $55,666 according to the Census Bureau, by nearly $19,000.

Moving from $74,362 to $92,953 is a sizeable raise, especially at a time when some private businesses are still skipping raises. I also don't get a sense that the public mood on politicians' pay has changed all that much. I could be wrong.

I don't want to suggest that our supervisors aren't doing a valuable, important job. I guess I'd like to hear a better, more detailed case for this pay increase than other elected officials make more and the job is more complicated.

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