Raises for sheriff, county attorney sought for equity

Compensation Board says Webster lags behind in pay compared to similarly-sized counties

Boosts in pay for the Webster County attorney and sheriff — of about 12.5 percent and 6.6 percent — were recommended by the county Compensation Board Wednesday evening, in order to keep up with salaries in similarly-sized counties throughout Iowa.

Although one board member recommended a larger raise for the county auditor as well, other elected department heads will be held to a raise of about 2.7 percent, and about 3 percent for the supervisors.

The recommendations will now go to the Webster County Board of Supervisors, which meets Tuesday. The supervisors can lower these amounts, but cannot raise them, Compensation Board Chair Dale Struecker said.

Salaries will be set later in the month as the supervisors prepare the budget for the coming year.

The compensation board voted 5-1 in favor of the recommendations, with Cathy Mickelson voting no.

The aim is to keep the salaries at about 17th highest in the state among Iowa county officials, the board said, since Webster County has the 17th highest population in Iowa.

But some officials have fallen behind.

“The two things that stood out to me were the sheriff and the county attorney,” board member James Kesterson said.

In terms of pay, the Webster County attorney and auditor both rank 25th in the state, and the sheriff and treasurer rank 21st, according to a comparison of other counties provided by the auditor, via Mickelson.

“I think the county attorney is the one that is really falling behind,” board member Charlie Walker said.

“And that’s been forever,” Struecker said.

“If he’s behind, that’s not really fair to Doreen to not give her the same consideration,” said Mickelson, referring to Webster County Auditor Doreen Pliner.

To reach the 17th rank, the attorney would need a raise of about $11,700, or 10.9 percent; the auditor would need a raise of $5,000, or 10.3 percent; and the sheriff would need a raise of $7,000, or 7.7 percent.

The recorder would need a 3.6 percent raise and the treasurer a 4.1 percent raise to reach a similar ranking.

Struecker said at one time the auditor, treasurer, and recorder all had different salaries, but they were set to the same amount several years ago.

Although some other counties have separate salaries for those three positions, Webster County can still pay them all the same, board member Nick Cochrane said.

“I’m not sure that I see any justification for increasing the auditor’s more than the recorder or the treasurer. Obviously they all do different things, but they are kind of symbiotic in the way they work together,” Cochrane said. “Just because other counties pay their auditors more than those other two offices doesn’t necessarily mean we have to.”

“I think the auditor, treasurer and recorder, their duties are pretty similar,” Walker said.

“I disagree,” said Mickelson, noting the millions of dollars of county budget the auditor has to deal with, as well as election duties.

Kesterson said higher pay was needed to keep the county attorney.

“I was in the loop when we tried to get the last county attorney to come here; I know one wouldn’t come because we wouldn’t pay him enough,” Kesterson said. “The auditor is low by comparison. The sheriff is low by comparison. They’re all low.”

The board did not agree to bring the auditor’s salary up, but recommended a 12.5 percent raise for the attorney and 6.6 percent raise for the sheriff.

Treasurer, auditor and recorder were all recommended for a raise of 2.8 percent.

The board also recommended a raise of 3.5 percent for the supervisors, and 3.2 percent for the chair of the Board of Supervisors.

Amounts recommended are:

• Auditor: A raise from $68,103 to $70,000, an increase of $1,897 or 2.8 percent;

• Attorney: $106,651 to $120,000, an increase of $13,349 or 12.5 percent;

• Recorder: $68,103 to $70,000, an increase of $1,897 or 2.8 percent;

• Sheriff: $90,071 to $ 96,000, an increase of $5,929 or 6.6 percent;

• Treasurer: $68,103 to $70,000, an increase of $1,897 or 2.8 percent;

• Supervisor: $37,691 to $39,000, an increase of $1,309 or 3.5 percent;

• Supervisor chair: $ 38,769 to $40,000, an increase of $1,231 or 3.2 percent.