December 1, 2005

Salaries To Increase In 2007 For County Officials

After more than two weeks of negotiations, the Scotland County Salary Committee met on November 23rd and finalized a new base-salary system for elected county officials to begin in 2007.

The committee, which consists of 11 county officials, voted 8-3 to raise the base salary level for the offices for terms beginning in 2007 and 2009.

After considering a number of options, the committee approved a motion to set the base salary for office holders at 92-percent of the base salary formerly recommend by state statute.

The Missouri legislature recently eliminated the state salary schedules for counties and placed the burden on county officials to establish their own pay rates.

On November 17th at the committees second meeting, a motion by Presiding Commissioner Mike Stephenson to set the new salary base at the current pay rate for all offices, failed.

Do our constituents really want us to vote ourselves a salary increase, Stephenson asked the committee. I doubt it, he said.

Prosecuting Attorney Kim Nicoli pointed out that the committee was simply setting the salary rate for the next office holders, who would take office in 2007 and 2009.

At that meeting the committee had discussions about the possibility of setting the salary rate at 100 % of the old statutory base, as it was noted that Clark, Knox, Lewis and Putnam County all pay county officials at this level.

The proposal would have cost the county more than $43,000 more in 2009 when all the new salaries would have been implemented.

But after reconvening on November 23rd, Commissioner Paul Campbell indicated he would not support such a move.

Anyone in their right mind would want to be paid 100-percent, Campbell said. But based on the countys current financial situation I cant support that at this time. Due to the hard work by the office holders we have made progress in rebuilding positive balances for the county, but Id like to get a couple more years of positive balance building so we have more of a cushion.

Ultimately Public Administrator Ellen Aylward proposed the motion to set the new salary base rates at 92-percent of the state recommended level. The move was approved by an 8-3 vote with Assessor Jim Ward, Collector Kathy Becraft, Prosecuting Attorney Kim Nicoli, Sheriff Wayne Winn, Treasurer LaMayra Brown, Coroner Ginny Monroe and Commissioner Paul Campbell voting in favor. Opposed were Stephenson, Commissioner Winn Hill and County Clerk Betty Lodewegen.

That move represents a roughly $21,000 cost for the county when all the offices are filled in the 2007 and 2009 elections.

Back in 1999 the salary committee, which by state mandate meets every two years, has set the base salary rate at 75 percent of the states recommended wage. Over the past six years the salary being paid to county officials has increased with cost of living allowance raises.

The current salaries and the percent of the old state base are: Presiding Commissioner - 18,797.88 (87%); Associate Commissioners - $16,737.91 (85%); County Clerk - $25,489.63 (85%); Treasurer - $23,668.36 (79%); Collector - $30,686.26 (103%); Assessor - $27,489.42 (92%); Sheriff - $31,144.78 (85%); Prosecuting Attorney - $30,200.94 (80%); Coroner - $7,026.19 (83%); Public Administrator - $12,516.10 (84%).

The new salary base will be $27,600 for the county clerk, treasurer, assessor and the new office of county recorder, which will be reimbursed by the state. The new salary rate for sheriff is $34,040; public administrator is $13,800; coroner is $7,820; prosecuting attorney is $34,960; presiding commissioner is $20,056; and associate commissioners is $18,216.

The county collector base rate will be set at $30,686.26. Initially the salary had exceeded the 75% level set in 1999, as had the office of assessor, due to changes made in the payment procedure. Prior to 1999, statewide, both assessors and collectors were paid based on income in their office. That changed, but the local salary committee agreed that it was unfair to give some office holders pay raises while cutting the salary of existing officials and agreed to retain those offices at their current pay level despite the fact that it exceeded the base percentage for other offices.

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