Government

Linn supervisors freeze own pay, approve raises for remaining county elected officials

'The community has spoken'

The Linn County Board of Supervisors meeting room is shown in the Jean Oxley Public Service Center on Friday, July 8, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
The Linn County Board of Supervisors meeting room is shown in the Jean Oxley Public Service Center on Friday, July 8, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Linn County Board of Supervisors have rejected a recommended 3 percent wage increase for supervisors this coming fiscal year — citing the board’s upcoming reduction from five members to three as a key reason.

The board on Wednesday voted 4-0, with Supervisor Brent Oleson absent, to approve a 3 percent increase for the county’s other elected officials — the county attorney, auditor, recorder, sheriff and treasurer.

Linn County’s compensation board — an appointed committee that recommends annual pay adjustments for elected officials — recommended a 3 percent increase for all elected officials, including supervisors. However, Supervisor Ben Rogers said wage adjustments included in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget will carry over the first six months after the board reduces to three members.

“I’m sensitive to the fact that the community voted to reduce us. We have heard time and time again from people who have been vocal advocates about this that the driving force has been our salary,” Rogers said. “A future board is going to have to determine what their appetite is for a salary.”

With that, supervisors will maintain their nearly $104,000 salary next fiscal year. County Auditor will make about $107,000 and the county recorder, and treasurer will be paid a little more than $110,000.

County sheriff will make more than $152,000 and the county attorney is slated to get about $176,000, according to county documents.

The new salaries for all officials will take effect July 1.

Following a public vote in 2016, the Linn County Board of Supervisors will reduce from five members to three next year. Voters will select members of the three-member board in this year’s November election.

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While Supervisor Jim Houser voted in favor of the wage adjustments, he did question the last minute amendment.

“I think all of a sudden, today, it turned political,” Houser said.

However, Rogers said the vote alligns with last year’s freeze in supervisor pay.

“It’s not that we’re not worthy of being paid for the work that we have done, but the community has spoken. Maybe that’s the political statement,” Rogers said.

Supervisors last year approved a three percent pay increase for the county attorney, recorder, sheriff and treasurer. Supervisors last year voted to freeze their wages, and the wages for Auditor Joel Miller, who requested to also have his salary frozen.

The difference last year was that the board’s salary vote aligned with the county compensation board’s recommendation.

Compensation board member Ray Stefani said Wednesday the committee considered the board’s reduction in size, but felt an across the board 3 percent raise was appropriate.

Supervisor Stacey Walker said he also supported a freeze in supervisor pay, as long as the remaining elected officials were not effected.

“I just want to make sure that we’re following the appropriate procedure to decouple our compensation from the rest of the elected officials so we’re not impacting their salaries as well,” Walker said. “I think it is important that we give a three-member board in this case, frankly the accountability and responsibility of accepting or rejecting their salary.”

Supervisor John Harris said he could go along with the vote.

“I have never really, since I came on this board, had to rely solely on my income to get through life and my colleagues, who do live off of their salaries solely, have decided that an increase is not the prudent thing to do for them right now and if that’s their feelings, I will vote right along with them,” Harris said.

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To the south, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors last week voted unanimously to a 3.68 percent wage increase, plus an additional $2,500 annually, for all elected positions.

In addition, supervisors will receive an additional 1.15 percent pay increase.

The increase is part of the county’s five-year process to raise supervisors’ pay to be 75 percent of the county auditor, recorder and treasurer salaries.

In Fiscal Year 2019, supervisors will make a little more than $77,000, the county auditor, recorder and treasurer will make just shy of $103,000, the sheriff will make close to $143,000 and the county attorney will be paid up to about $155,000. The attorney’s official salary will not be finalized until after the state District Court judges’ salaries are finalized.

l Comments: (319) 339-3175; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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