Next week’s News Letter Journal will carry a story detailing how tough 2017 was for Weston County. In addition to experiencing nearly four percent population loss (second in Wyoming to only Campbell County), we also earned the dubious distinction of leading the state in percentage decrease in sales tax revenue. In fact, we were one of only two counties (Crook County was the other) that experienced a decrease in sales tax receipts last year.
That means it probably isn’t the best time for the Weston County Commissioners to be talking about salary increases for elected officials, and we would argue that raises for those officials who work for the county in a part-time capacity are ill-advised.
We believe, however, that raises for the six elected officials who hold full-time positions in county government (Sheriff, Attorney, Clerk, Treasurer, Assessor and Clerk of District Court) are appropriate. We also think approving those raises at this time ensures the taxpayers of Weston County the best chance of reaping immediate benefits from the move.
First and foremost, the fact that those elected officials are paid less than they are in any other county in Wyoming is embarrassing. It’s terrible marketing, and creates something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Despite recent indicators, we don’t believe Weston County is the “poorest in the state,” but we soon will be if we act like that is the case.
It is hard to attract the best candidates for these positions if they are paid less than every one of their counterparts around Wyoming, and it is highly unlikely that we will ever entice potential candidates to move to this community if they can get a better paycheck for the position they are qualified for in any other county in the state.
These are professional positions— and the people who hold them have to go through the additional process of getting rehired through an election every four years. If we want those positions to appeal to the best possible candidates, we should pay them accordingly. If we want to maximize the potential for an immediate return on that investment, the best time to do it is right now— before the filing period begins for election to those offices this fall.