County attorney says his office treated unfairly
Before the Washington County Compensation Board decided to recommend a 5 percent increase in salary for the county attorney, county attorney Larry Brock told the board that his office has been treated unfairly over the past three years.
Brock submitted a statement to the Compensation Board in which he “does address the fact that I believe our office has been treated unfairly over the past three years. I’ve explained why and I explained what I’m requesting to rectify that situation.”
In his statement Brock said, “As you may recall, in Fiscal Year 2011, this committee took the unprecedented step of freezing only the salary for the Washington County Attorney while recommending raises for all of the other Washington County elected officials. After final approval by the Washington County Board of Supervisors, the Washington County Auditor, Recorder, Sheriff and Treasurer received a 2 percent salary increase while my office received no increase.”
Brock goes on to say that the salaries of the county recorder and county auditor were not frozen when new elected officials took over those offices in the last three fiscal years.
“As you can see, my office, and only my office, has apparently been singled out over the last 3 years resulting in a drastic drop in the rankings of this office’s salary when compared to other county attorneys and other elected Washington County officials,” Brock continued. “I believe it is time for this gross disparity in salary rankings to be addressed by this committee.”
Brock states that he would like that 2 percent raise to be given to his office in addition to the percentage raise being recommended for the other Washington County officials by the compensation board.
“I believe this is the fairest way to address the disparity created by this committee in Fiscal Year 2011,” he said.
According to the Jan. 11, 2011, Washington Evening Journal, Compensation Board member Jim Hanshaw told his fellow board members that he had received several phone calls from taxpayers and other counties about the county attorney’s salary.
Hanshaw said that former county attorney Barb Edmondson’s salary at that time was $91,310, and that she left the county attorney’s office after 25 years of experience. He said the people who called him said the newly elected Brock should receive a lower salary since he did not have the same kind of experience as Edmondson did.
The 2011 Compensation Board appointed three members — Hanshaw, Paul Horak and Mike Van Osdol — to study the attorney’s salary issue. (Horak and Van Osdol are still members of the Compensation Board. Horak represents the county attorney.)
During the Jan. 17, 2011 meeting, Hanshaw said that a survey of eight like-sized counties in Iowa showed that the average salary of county attorneys was $83,298. He also said that if Jefferson and Henry counties were added, the average would drop considerably. The average of Henry and Jefferson County was about $72,000.
Following Hanshaw’s report, board member Larry Christensen made the motion to leave the county attorney’s salary at $91,310. Board member Dennis Nygaard seconded the motion. (Christensen is still a Compensation Board member.)
The Journal also reported that Brock spoke about his qualifications at the Jan. 17, 2011 meeting. Nygaard asked Brock to what extent did salary play in his decision to run for county attorney. Brock said it wasn’t an issue in the decision.
“Being a prosecutor had been a lifelong dream of mine,” Brock told the board. “I never had the opportunity to do it before now. I ran because I thought I could do the job and be an effective prosecutor for the county.”
Nearly a year later in December 2012, the Compensation Board recommended salary increases for all county elected officials. The board recommended 5 percent increases for the county attorney and county sheriff, and lower raises for the other elected officials. The board of supervisors cut the salary increases in half for the attorney, auditor, recorder, sheriff and treasurer. The supervisors voted to not increase their salaries.
After Brock completed his remarks to the Compensation Board on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, none of the Compensation Board members commented on his statement. The board decided to recommend 5 percent increases for the county attorney and sheriff; 3 percent raises for the auditor, recorder and treasurer; and 2.8 percent raises for the supervisors.
The Board of Supervisors will discuss the Compensation Board’s recommendation during a meeting at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10, in the county courthouse.