Comp board recommends 4 percent salary increases
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
Last night, the Henry County compensation board voted to present the board of supervisors with a proposed 4-percent salary increase across the board for the county’s elected officials.
This 4-percent increase is a recommendation only. The board of supervisors will make the final decision on any salary increases for the upcoming fiscal year.
“Our duty is to recommend a maximum increase in salary,” explained Bob Swindell, compensation board chair. “Whatever we recommend, it’s really up to the supervisors to either adopt what we said as a maximum or bring that down.”
If the supervisors approve the four percent increase for fiscal year 2013-2014, the salaries would increase as follows, with the current salary listed followed by the fiscal year 2013-2014 salary: sheriff: $69,030 to $71,791; attorney: $82,343 to $85,833; treasurer, auditor, recorder: $52,243 to $53,293; supervisors: $30,142 to $31,348.
However, the supervisors can choose to increase salaries less than 4 percent, even as low as 0 percent.
“They can’t exceed what we recommend, but they can lower that down,” said Swindell.
According to the Iowa Code, if the requests are decreased, they all must decreased by a similar percentage with the exception of the sheriff’s compensation.
For example, for fiscal year 2012-2013, the compensation board recommended a 7-percent increase for the sheriff and a 4-percent increase for other county elected positions, but the supervisors only approved a 5.25-percent raise for the sheriff’s salary and a three-percent raise for other county- elected officials.
“Most often it comes down to the last lever when the budget is done and we see what’s left and what we can do, that’s where your recommendation really takes a hit, when we see what money we have,” Supervisor Chairman Gary See told the compensation board. “We take it seriously, what you recommend.”
Henry County Treasurer Ana Lair also spoke at last night’s meeting on behalf of her office.
“There’s just a lot of new added responsibilities and new things that we’re having to learn and be responsible to know in doing the functions of our office,” said Lair.
Lair referenced a salary survey that shows Henry County is ranked 35th in the state as far as population, but the treasurer’s office is ranked 41st.
“We’re not quite in line with where we should be,” said Lair, who also pointed out that there are counties included in that survey, such as Des Moines County, where the treasurer’s office does not have the added responsibility of driver’s licenses.
Lair also pointed out that although the compensation board only makes a recommendation on the salaries of those elected to office, it also impacts other county employees as many of them are paid a percentage of the total salary of their department head.
“It affects not just me, but my staff, who I think are awesome,” said Lair. “Their salaries are based on my salary.”
Compensation board member Jeff Thomas spoke on behalf of Recorder Shirley Wandling, who he represents on the board.
“Her main comment to me was that she appreciates that the salaries are staying competitive,” said Thomas, referencing the amount of training that her employees undergo for the work they do. “When somebody leaves her for a better-paying position, there’s a real drop back in their efficiency so they can get somebody else hired that they can trust to do that kind of work.”
Although a 3-percent increase was mentioned, Thomas made the motion for the 4-percent increase, saying it would allow the supervisors to allow a little bit more of an increase if possible.
“The problem is you never know what these other counties are going to do,” said John Lance, board member. “I know Washington County met a month ago and they offered a 5-percent cap up there. Depending on what the supervisors do, we could fall even further behind.”
The supervisors will be making the decision on raises in coming weeks as they work on fiscal year 2013-2014 budget.