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Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

Cost of living drives elected officials' pay proposals

Monday, December 10, 2012

Many Plymouth County elected officials have asked for a pay increase which combines a cost of living and a percentage increase.

The elected officials suggestions given to the Plymouth County Compensation Board during a meeting last Friday will be considered for 2013-2014 salaries, effective July 1, 2013.

By state law, compensation board members are appointed by the county's elected officials to review elected officials salaries and make recommendations annually to the board of supervisors.

The compensation board recommendations for the county attorney, auditor, recorder, sheriff, treasurer and supervisors may be accepted or reduced by the board of supervisors.

Current salaries and positions are: attorney $94,378; auditor, recorder and treasurer $56,258; sheriff $79,176 and supervisors $29,324, according to the Iowa State Association of Counties annual salary survey.

Each elected official in Plymouth County last Friday made presentations to the compensation board providing information such as salary comparisons, staff and duties.

* In his presentation, county attorney Darin Raymond suggested the compensation board consider a "fair" pay raise of 4 to 4.2 percent.

To suggest that amount, Raymond combined a 2.2 Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is used to measure changes in prices of a fixed set of costs and services for the past 12 months, and a 2 percent raise.

Raymond noted Sioux County's attorney, with less time in office than Raymond's 20 years of experience in the county attorney's office, receives an annual salary which is already $10,000 more than Raymond's.

He also provided examples of salaries for a district associate court judge, the court administrator and the area public defender's office supervisor.

All are higher than Raymond's salary.

Those positions range from $107,000 to $130,000, he noted.

He also said the part-time city of Le Mars attorney's compensation is higher than the full-time salary of Raymond's assistant county attorney who receives $80,000 annually.

The assistant county attorney's salary is based on a percentage of Raymond's salary.

* Treasurer Linda Dobson reported Plymouth County had the second highest taxable valuation of $1.254 among nine counties with similar populations.

She suggested a 4.5 percent pay raise for the treasurer's position.

The amount combines a 2.2 percent cost of living increase and an additional 2.3 percent increase.

"This would help to maintain the level at the cost of living, plus put us a little ahead," Dobson said.

She noted the treasurer's staff has a total of 126 years of experience serving county residents and businesses.

* With 22 years of experience, Mike Van Otterloo said he was seeing 20-25 percent turnover in sheriffs' positions in Iowa this year.

In comparing his pay to similar positions cited in state law for a sheriff's comparison, Van Otterloo told the compensation board Friday that the chief of police in Le Mars is paid $82,000, which is higher than his sheriff's pay of $79,100 a year.

He referred to the June primary and November general election in 2012 to fill the local sheriff's office as "his evaluation."

Van Otterloo won both elections.

The sheriff suggested a pay raise of 2.5-3.0 percent for his office.

* Auditor Stacey Feldman proposed a $2,000 raise for the auditor's salary.

"That's probably about where I need to be, I just don't want to fall back,"Feldman said.

Her auditor's duties included a $25 million county budget prepared with supervisors, county elected officials and other department heads.

She also noted 2012 was a large election year which had kept her office "very busy."

* Recorder Jolynn Goodchild told the compensation board recorders in six comparably-sized counties were paid higher wages by an average of $2,789.

The recorder, who has worked for the county since 1997, asked to be paid an amount to maintain a "decent standard of living."

Goodchild's suggestion to the compensation board was a 1.7 percent increase plus $1,000.

The 1.7 percent reflected the percentage increase to be used for Social Security recipients in 2013, she said.

The budgetary accomplishments of supervisors were part of the presentation Don Kass, supervisors' vice chairman made to the compensation board Friday.

* Through supervisors efforts in recent years, with cooperation county elected officials and employees, Kass reported cash reserves growing from $300,000 to $1 million.

He also said the county's portion of the property tax levy was the seventh lowest in the state

Supervisors were satisfied with what they make and "ask that you not go over 2 percent" for supervisors new wages, Kass told the compensation board.

The compensation board will meet this Friday at 3 p.m. at the courthouse to review the information from the county elected officials and make a recommendation to supervisors, according to Craig Bauerly, compensation board chairman.

The pay for the county's largest employee groups for 2013-2014 was set last month.

Supervisors signed agreements with the sheriff's department and secondary road employee bargaining groups.

Road employees will see a 2.5 percent pay increase beginning July 1.

Sheriff's office employees in the jail and communications center will receive a 75-cent an hour pay increase.

The wages of sheriff's deputies are based on a percentage of the sheriff's page.

The same is true of other elected officials' deputies and clerks.



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