County supes ready to award themselves, other officials salary increases

The Greene County supervisors decided Monday what they’ll do with the compensation board’s recommendation for wage increases for county elected officials, described by board chair John Muir as “a perfect plan to put us on a fire and leave us no way out.”

After lengthy discussion, the board decided by consensus not to separate their own salaries when they act on the recommendation, awarding themselves a $1,000 per year – or 3.6 percent – raise for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2019.

Supervisor Dawn Rudolph justified the increase, saying the position has changed and that many things have come to the board that required them to seek information. She said she opposes taking no increase in pay, but she would consider taking less than the recommendation. She said that although there are only a few set hours each week, the supervisors are basically “on call” all the time.

“The weight of this job has changed a lot,” Muir said. ”There have been a lot of big things to deal with. When it’s not us sitting here in the future, I hope we can attract good people. It takes a lot of time and a lot of thought. You wouldn’t be able to work this into a very professional job that took a lot of time, too.”

Supervisor Tom Contner said he’s happy with the current pay and named the health insurance benefit “a big deal.” He also said he wouldn’t oppose a cost of living raise. Peter Bardole said he’d be comfortable with a 3 percent raise, and Mick Burkett favored taking the recommended 3.6 percent.

The board needs to act by Feb. 8 to separate their own salary from that of other elected officials. They’ll let that deadline pass.

Muir said “unofficially” the supervisors do not intend to make any reductions to the compensation board’s recommendation, which calls for salary increases ranging from 2.96 to 8.6 percent. Heun will continue putting numbers into the budget based on the increased salaries.

The board also decided to increase the base amount given to the county libraries by 3 percent, changing the base allocation from $70,000 to $72,100 as requested by the Greene County Library Association. That amount hasn’t been increased in several years.

The base allocation is distributed on a formula that considers circulation and the percentage of library cards held by rural residents. The libraries also receive $1,000 each outside of the formula.

Auditor Jane Heun reminded the supervisors their allocation to the libraries comes from the rural levy to provide services to rural residents. The state mandates a levy rate to be provided to libraries. Greene County provides about twice the required minimum.

Former county supervisor Mary Jane Fields, now a member of the Jefferson library board of trustees, had suggested an increase to $90,000. She arrived at that figure by calculating a 3 percent increase each year since the last time the base was increased.

The county budget is figured backwards from most budgets, calculating all expenses and then setting the levy rates needed to generate revenue to match. In most other situations, budgets start with the known revenue and then adjust expenses to fit the money available.

Total taxable valuation in the county increased by 4.51 percent for the coming fiscal year. The same levy rate as in the current year would generate more revenue.

A public hearing on the budget is slated for March 11. The levy rates will be known at least two weeks before the hearing because of public notice requirements.

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