Supervisors should set own salaries
December 27, 2012
To the Editor:
In his column of Dec. 18, 2012, David Hotle stated that he is not a fan of the use of Compensation Boards to determine county salaries. I am in total agreement with him. While this is the law per the Iowa Code, in essence, it is like having the fox guard the chicken house. Why wouldn’t elected officials appoint someone who would well represent their interests?
County supervisors are elected by county taxpayers to represent THEIR interests in spending county tax dollars. Supervisors should be the ones to set county salaries. In January, the Board of Supervisors meets with all the department heads to approve their proposed budgets. In these budgets, salaries are a part of where the big tax dollars are spent. The three new supervisors coming onto the board need to do a lot of homework to understand county budgeting, and how to make wide use of tax dollars. They will have some unpopular decisions to make, but they are charged with doing what is best for all of Washington County.
I spent eight years on the board, beginning in 1989. Our board accomplished much during those eight years, a lot of which is still evident in our county. I well remember the first Compensation Board meeting I attended in 1988. At that time, the salary for supervisors was about $16,500. One of the Comp Board members made a comment that the two new board members (Virginia Bordwell and me) were “rookies,” and perhaps should not receive that much salary. In 2013, we have three “rookies” coming on at a salary of about $34,500.
Perhaps the new board members should spend some of their energies to lead a charge to change how county elected officials’ salaries are set. They need to work with other counties’ Boards of Supervisors and the state association to communicate with legislators to change the law. After all, they are elected to represent the taxpayers of the county. No other group will take the lead on this. The saying “If it is to be, it is up to me” still rings true!
To quote from Thomas Jefferson, “A government that is big enough to give you all you want is also big enough to take all you have.”