county plans biggest pay hikes for elected officials in 20 years | News, Sports, Jobs
Editor’s Note: At its regular meeting on December 20, the Tama County Board of Directors unanimously approved the salary recommendations outlined below in the following article.
In the coming weeks, supervisors in Tama County will consider a recommendation that would increase the salaries of county officials by the highest amount in 20 years.
Dave Forbes and Nick Podhajsky, members of the Tama County Compensation Board, presented their annual recommendation to the Supervisory Board on December 13.
The recommendation calls for a six percent salary increase for five of the six elected county offices, including the auditor, treasurer, recorder, attorney and supervisors.
The recommendation also asks the county for a 15 percent pay raise for the county sheriff.
Annual increases for the same offices in Tama County have hovered between 2 and 3.5 percent over the past four years.
In the 2007-08 fiscal year, the committee recommended six percent salary increases, but the supervisory board ultimately lowered the amount to four percent before approving the measure.
Prior to that, the commission recommended nine percent increases for the 2000-01 fiscal year, with the exception of supervisors who were recommended at four percent.
The driving force behind this year’s proposal appears to be a historic spike in the cost of living figures recently reported by the US Department of Labor.
According to a Dec. 10 statement from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index for all items saw a 6.8% increase from November 2020 to November 2021.
The price index measures the change in prices paid by consumers for goods and services.
This is the largest 12-month increase the national index has seen since the early 1980s.
The commission also looked at the position of Tama County with its compensation compared to 99 other counties in the state.
Tama County ranks 44th in terms of population, but is closer to 60th or 70th in terms of salaries for its various elected officials.
An additional element on top of the cost-of-living increases calculated in the sheriff’s salary recommendation was state law passed this year that contains specific language dealing with sheriff’s salaries.
Senate File 342, more commonly known as Iowa’s “Return to the blue beak”, includes a provision that appears to require county compensation boards to set sheriffs’ salaries at rates comparable to those of other law enforcement officers at the state and local levels.
According to Forbes, if the county adjusts Sheriff Dennis Kucera’s salary to comparable rates for professional law enforcement administrators and state patrol command officers, in the Criminal Investigations Division of the Department of Public Safety and municipal police departments in Tama County, the required percentage increase would be closer to a 40 percent salary increase.
The two remuneration committee members present at the meeting indicated that there were differing opinions on the increase to be recommended.
The concern of some members of the commission was that failure to be proactive in increasing the sheriff’s salary could result in an even larger percentage increase in the years to come if the new legislation is strictly enforced and other agencies increase the going rate with their own salary increases. Supervisors took no action on the recommendation on Monday and offered little comment other than a reminder to commission members of the options they have before them with the compensation process.
Supervisors can choose to approve the recommendation, decline the recommendation, or approve an amended compensation recommendation with salary figures lower than recommended amounts. They do not have the right to vote to increase the numbers approved by the compensation commission.
Although the compensation commission’s recommendation process is complex, the overall financial impact on the county’s bottom line is smaller in relative terms.
The county employs a total of 140 employees, some of whom are covered by union agreements.
There are 15 elected officials and deputy assistants who would be directly affected by the recommendation of the compensation commission.
Below is a table reflecting the current salaries of the six elected offices and where those salaries rank among the 99 counties in Iowa.
The list below shows the most recent salaries for the six elected offices in Tama County and their ranking among the 99 counties in Iowa.
Lawyer – $ 94,352 – 65th
Auditor – $ 62,266 – 70th
Recorder – $ 62,096 – 67th
Treasurer – $ 62,182 – 69th
Sheriff – $ 79,546 – 78th
Supervisors – $ 32,682 – 60th