Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 31, 2014

Officials’ raises cut

Supervisors vote to give only partial pay hikes this year; accept none themselves
By Linda Wenger | Jan 15, 2013

Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar asked the county supervisors to approve 5 percent salary increases for him and county attorney Larry Brock, during the supervisors’ meeting Tuesday morning. He also asked that the decision be tabled so that the three new supervisors could research the matter more.
“I know I’m going to be the blunt of this in the paper,” Dunbar said.
Dunbar said he asked compensation board chairman Mike Van Osdol to attend Tuesday’s meeting but that Van Osdol had a tax meeting to attend.
“But I want to point out a couple of things, if I could,” Dunbar said. “The three new supervisors weren’t able to attend the comp board so I kind of wanted to give them what we had discussed.”
Dunbar prepared charts of the salary information for the past three years. Last year, the attorney, auditor, recorder, sheriff and treasurer received 2.4 percent raises, the chart indicated. According to the chart, the county attorney did not get a salary increase for fiscal years 2011 and 2012. Dunbar said the state average salary increases for the past three years for county attorneys increased by 9.29 percent. The Washington County attorney lags the state average by 6.89 percent.
Dunbar’s figures for county sheriff show that his salary has increased 4.40 percent over the past three years. The state average increase was 6.17 percent over three years, which leaves Dunbar below that average by 1.77 percent.
The Compensation Board recommended the attorney and sheriff get 5 percent raises and that the auditor, recorder and treasurer get 4 percent. The supervisors can change the recommendations equally across the board, which is what they decided to do. The salary recommendations were cut 50 percent for the attorney, auditor, recorder, sheriff and treasurer. The Compensation Board recommended a 2 percent increase for the supervisors. The board decided they would not receive any raise.
“I know that board’s recommendation is to try to keep this low as possible with 2 percent,” Dunbar said. “I guess I would ask that since the three supervisors we currently have weren’t at the comp board to maybe research this a little bit more, look at this information and make a decision based on what is right and fair and not what is politically correct. Politically correct would be 0 percent, as everybody wants to hear. That’s the reason I want to state that. Got any questions on that on what I put out here?”
Supervisor Jack Seward was the first supervisor to speak about Dunbar’s opinion.
“The only think I know about what went on I read about in the paper and from talking to one of the guys that was on the compensation commission,” Seward said. “Apparently there was no discussion during the compensation committee meetings about the kind of job being done, the quality of the job being done, and the work load possibly as opposed to other counties. All that was considered was strictly the statistics of where we rank in population, which I believe is 28th and the target where you wanted everybody’s salary to be which is 15. Is that correct?”
Dunbar thought the target was higher than 15, but that 15th would be nice.
Supervisor Stan Stoops complimented Dunbar on his ability to keep his yearly budgets in the black.
Stoops then said, “I don’t know what county you guys are walking around in, but in Washington County, I have not heard one word about the raise being a positive thing. Not one word and you’re not the one being fingered. The words I get are ‘Don’t you dare give that raise.’ Not one person has come to me and said they deserve the raise. Not one person. “
Stoops then spoke about the county attorney.
“I’m sorry the county attorney isn’t here,” Stoops said. “He should be when I’m speaking words like this. There’s a very negative attitude about the decisions he’s made since he’s been on board and I didn’t bring those on. That’s on him. But they need to be spoken here.”
Supervisor and board chairman Ron Bennett said, “The compensation board does make these recommendations on the position and not the person.”
Bennett also said the voters can decide at the next election who will be elected.
According to Iowa Code 331.907,  “The county compensation board annually shall review the compensation paid to comparable officers in other counties of this state, other states, private enterprise, and the federal government.  In setting the salary of the county sheriff, the county compensation board shall consider setting the sheriff’s salary so that it is comparable to salaries paid to professional law enforcement administrators and command officers of the state patrol, the division of criminal investigation of the department of public safety, and city police agencies in this state.”
After some confusion about what motion Bennett made, Dunbar made sure the new motion was seconded.
When Bennett made another motion about cutting the compensation board’s recommendation by 50 percent, Dunbar asked auditor Dan Widmer, “Do you know what the motion is?”
Widmer said that he did.
The supervisors unanimously approved the motion establishing the elected officials’ salaries for fiscal year 2014.
Supervisor Bob Yoder said that the county needs a little better economy before salaries are increased at higher levels.
Both Seward and Stoops said they wish they could link the salary increases with job performance.
“Folks don’t like the performance,” Stoops said, “then they have a vote.”
“And they will have that vote,” Bennett said.

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