Raises approved by Weston County Commissioners

By: 
Alexis Barker, NLJ News Editor

The Board of Weston County Commissioners approved raises for all county employees and elected officials — except for themselves — during their May 3 meeting. The wage increases will cost the county an additional $420,000-plus a year. 

As previously reported, Deputy County Attorney Jeani Stone proposed raises for both county employees and elected officials on April 19. 

On May 3, in a room packed full of county employees eager to hear the discussion, Stone said that the top priority, as far as raise approval goes, should be the elected officials. She noted that raises for elected officials must be set before June 1 and that they can only be increased every four years.

The commissioners, however, argued that employees should take priority, with some even suggesting the commissioners themselves should sacrifice their own compensation to address the need for pay increases for county workers.“I think we should devote time to the employees, not the elected officials. Four years ago we (elected officials) took a pretty good jump (in salary),” Chairman Marty Ertman said. “The machine doesn’t work without you guys (county employees). I would like to leave the salaries of the electeds as they are and leave it at that. Whatever we can devote to employees should be appropriate.” 

She noted that there had been conversation about eliminating the commissioner’s salary previously and that she would be open to reducing the salary for the commissioners in favor of a raise for employees. Commissioner Don Taylor agreed with Ertman, stating that the employees are the ones that keep the county running. 

Commissioner Tony Barton acknowledged that the commission had “lots of work to do around here” after employee survey responses showed that the board had “let a lot of you guys down.” 

Commissioner Nathan Todd, on the other hand, urged the commission to consider the impact of inflation on workers. He stressed the need for an increase in wages to help the employees as prices continue to climb. 

“Everyone is having trouble. My prices are up and my cattle prices aren’t going up,” Todd said. 

Commissioner Ed Wagoner supported Todd, stating that the board should give the raises, although he questioned how the county would sustain the increase. 

“Everyone is paying more. It is affecting everyone, and there is not a damn thing anyone can do,” Todd said. “I think there are a lot of caveats. There are going to be a lot of people upset, but they need to understand.” 

Despite the concerns about sustainability, Barton moved to provide a 15% cost-of-living adjustment to the pay of all county employees, whether salaried or hourly. He said that the county has reserves to cover the increase for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends June 30. 

Also receiving 15% raises, a $9,000 increase to their salary, are the treasurer, assessor, clerk and clerk of district court. Each of these elected officials will begin receiving $69,000 annually after the 2022 election. 

The coroner, a position the board described as part time, received a $2,100 raise, bringing the total pay to $16,500.

The most significant raises are those for the county attorney and sheriff. Whoever is elected to those positions in 2022 will receive $75,000 in annual pay, a $15,000 increase. 

The five county commissioners, on the other hand, will not receive a raise and will continue to receive $14,400 plus benefits. 

 

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