OTTUMWA — Long-running discussions on pay for county officials came back to the county supervisors Tuesday.
John Webber, chair of the county’s compensation commission, said there has been a continuous decline in matching up the average state’s salaries for elected officials and Wapello county departments.
Webber said the goal of the compensation board is to get to the 50th percentile (the state average) as compared to the rest of the state. “Keep in mind that as other compensation boards and counties make adjustments,” he said, “there will be some raises for other people and understand that elected officials will not stay at that rate, but that’s where we’re trying to get to — the average.”
Webber said last year supervisors approved of raises that increased pay by 2.22 percent, but it still did not meet the average percentile. So county departments’ salaries dropped in comparison to other counties.
Last year, the compensation board told supervisors it wanted to find a method to formulate a program to get those smaller raises and maintain it over a long period of time.
“We believe that it is fair to put our elected officials in that 50th percentile position,” Webber said, “so we have recommended significant increases for the county attorney, auditor, the recorder, the treasurer and the sheriff.”
Although it will be difficult to raise salaries and meet the percentile, but Webber recommends pursuing it as other counties such as Des Moines, Muscatine, Woodbury, Jasper, etc have.
Supervisors said they will consider the proposal.
“Taking it up to the 50th percentile — I do agree there needs to be something in place,” Supervisor Brain Morgan said. “I suggest we reduce it by 75 percent. It’s lower, but brings us above the state average from last year. It gives us a little growth anyway.”
Supervisor Wayne Huit agreed. “It would be the best move to do it that way,” he said. “I’m sure the money will be there. I don’t want to see taxes raise either, we need to make a decent wage, but this is a start.”
Supervisors and the compensation board will meet at a later date to compromise on the pay scale and find ways to meet the state average.