Thank you for bringing attention in your editorial December 1st to the fact that the Wapello County Board of Supervisors has not maintained fair and equitable salary levels for its other elected officials.
Is there anyone among your readers that does not believe that he/she should be paid a wage that is comparable to others doing the same job?
Let’s look at some facts. According to the Iowa State Association of Counties’ website, Wapello County is 19th in size among Iowa counties with a population of 35,678. The Wapello County Supervisors rank 35th in pay among all Iowa county supervisors while the Wapello County Sheriff is 85th in pay among all Iowa county sheriffs! The other local elected officials rank as follows: Attorney, 69th; Auditor, 84th; Recorder, 80th; and Treasurer, 82nd.
In general, a larger county will have more car titles and liens to process, more taxpayers, more birth, death, and marriage records, more crime, more lawsuits, more parcels of land to keep track of, more employees to schedule and supervise, more voters — the same responsibilities as other counties, just more of them!
One of the reasons given for keeping the salaries low is Wapello County’s taxable valuation. Looking at the figures from ISAC’s website, I found we are about 30th in taxable value and then prepared a comparison of wages paid in counties with similar values. With the exception of supervisors, Wapello County elected officials are far behind those in counties with similar taxable value. The Wapello County Auditor is paid $2,000 to $19,000 less than in counties with similar values while the County Sheriff is paid $6,000 to $24,000 less than in counties with similar value.
Before the Iowa Legislature changed Iowa law to the current method of a compensation board making recommendations to the Board of Supervisors, and the Board of Supervisors having the final say, salaries paid to all elected officials were determined by the legislature based on a county’s population and taxable value. Wapello County elected officials were treated fairly under that method. Now they are at the mercy of the (well-paid in comparison) local board of supervisors.
Iowa Law requires that seven compensation board members be appointed by the elected officials. Iowa Law further states that the comp board must look at comparable salaries and annually make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. This is where the problem lies; the Board of Supervisors has repeatedly cut those recommendations. Supervisor Jerry Parker has stated in the past that he wants an equal increase for everyone. Why would the recommendation be the same for someone in the 35th position as in the 85th? Past Compensation Boards have tried to increase the underpaid officials without success. The rankings keep declining.
I appreciate that the board of supervisors has a difficult challenge each year to maintain adequate service for the citizens of our county with less taxable value than similar sized counties. However, I am confident that they can find the resources to let the other elected officials know that they are valued.
It is time for the Wapello County Compensation Board to make its current recommendation to the Board of Supervisors and for the Board of Supervisors to act. I encourage them to begin correcting this inequity! Our elected officials deserve better!