Routt County elected officials to go to board about pay disparities

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Salary comparison

County management

Road and Bridge Director: $104,292

Human Resources Director: $93,888

County Attorney: $104,292

Planning Director: $86,532

Internet Services Director: $96,132

Finance Director: $104,292

Purchasing/Building Director: $93,888

Communications Director: $84,072

Building Official: $93,888

Emergency Services Director: $79,164

Airport Manager: $98,844

Public/Environmental Health Director: $98,844

Human Services Director: $87,984

Elected officials

County Commissioners: $58,500

County Clerk: $58,500

Treasurer/Public Trustee: $71,000

Assessor: $58,500

Sheriff: $76,000

Coroner: $33,100

— A group of elected Routt County officials will go before the Routt County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday to make the case that they, as well as the commissioners, are underpaid when their salaries are compared to county department heads who are appointed, and not elected, to their jobs. However, county Assessor Gary Peterson acknowledged Monday that the group doesn’t expect the meeting to result in salary adjustments in the near term.

“We understand that this is a very sensitive issue with the commissioners right now because we’re asking them to give themselves a pay raise at the same time county employees are working under pay cuts,” Peterson said. “But the disparity between the (salaries) of elected officials and appointed department heads is almost a 40 percent difference. We want to be heard, but we won’t really expect them to move on it.”

In addition to Peterson, Treasurer Jeanne Whiddon, County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland, Sheriff Garrett Wiggins and Coroner Rob Ryg are expected to appear before the commissioners Tuesday.

The salaries of elected officials like the assessor, county clerk, treasurer, coroner and commissioners are governed by state statue. And none of them were awarded the $1,000 bonus that other county employees received last week.

County Attorney John Merrill confirmed Monday that state law groups counties into six classifications, each with its own salary schedule based on a set of criteria that include population, assessed valuation, percent rural population and population growth, among others.

Routt County is grouped in Classification III along with Rio Blanco, Grand, Gunnison, Montrose and Moffat counties.

Routt had the highest property value of the 20 counties in Classification III as of 2010. The department heads point out that their colleagues who are appointed and not elected are paid based in part on a salary survey that includes Classification II counties like Eagle, Summit, Garfield and Pitkin.

In Classification I counties like Boulder, county commissioners, for example, make $87,300. Routt County commissioners make $58,500.

The Legislature is required to appoint a commission at regular intervals to look at the salaries of county officials to ensure they are “equitable,” Merrill said. Counties may not take it on themselves to change their salary classification. Instead, the commissioners may make the request to their state legislators that they recommend a change in classification. They aren’t often turned down, he said.

The elected officials are expected to use salary surveys of Routt County department heads and the second-ranking employee in their office, and contrast them to the salaries of elected officials and their second-ranking employee to make the point that the disparity in compensation could discourage qualified people from seeking to fill open spots during county elections.

“In our county there have been many elections in which elected officials have run unopposed,” the group of Routt County elected officials wrote in a memo to the commissioners. “As a group we have concerns that succession in elected offices will be difficult to fill from within the county due to the fact that many of our highly qualified employees would have to take a pay cut to take on the added responsibilities."

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

PJ Howe 2 years, 11 months ago

The first thing I noticed is that the elected officials are correct, there is quite a bit of disparity in wages, but theirs are fine. It's everybody else’s wages that is way out of line; $96,000 for an Internet Services Director??? You can probably get a high school grad to do that job better for $25k, whatever it is.

I really find it hard to believe that all these people ran for office and didn't know what the job paid. Now they want to discuss their wages? Maybe that should have been a family discussion prior to running for the position.

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ybul 2 years, 11 months ago

Unfortunately it is the benefits (pension contribution mainly) that makes their very excessive.

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spidermite 2 years, 11 months ago

Most people look for other empoyment if they don't feel their being paid enough. These disgruntled county employees should become self employed. If they are truly worth more money they can earn it this way.
I'm sure their are plenty of others that would gladly fill their positions.

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rhys jones 2 years, 11 months ago

$96K for an Internet Services Director? Yeah cry me a river. When the Boat sinks, you did it to yourselves.

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rhys jones 2 years, 11 months ago

The more I think about this, the more irate I become. In times of economic despair, the self-righteous and entitled want MORE MONEY?? Like their exorbitant salary isn't too much already? Who set it to begin with? MORE GOVERNMENT. The fox is loose in the hen house, my friends. Do we really need new cars every three years?

I would say I can't believe how our government wastes our money -- but I can. They won't need us, to pop their own balloon.

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spidermite 2 years, 11 months ago

Wiggins wants a raise and he just got elected! Now didn't he say he was running for office to make Routt County a safer place? Looks like it was more for the $.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 11 months ago

Well, also suggests that county management could be paid less. Suggests to me that if elected officials are willing to work for less money than civil service jobs then they could pay less and still find capable employees.

In this modern world where white collar employees are expected to have skills then there is far less of a reason to be paying management that much more than staff.

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Scott Glynn 2 years, 11 months ago

While I am in no way condoning or admonishing the salaries individuals earn for positions they have attained, the prudent thing would be to collect job descriptions for these positions to determine if in fact there are inequities in place. While the Internet Services Director by name sounds overpaid, this may be the budget for the entire department and he/she does it all as opposed to having staff to delegate responsibilities to. Let's not get up in arms about things we don't have all of the information on.

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spidermite 2 years, 11 months ago

scottglynn, They don't need to do a job descriptions. All they need to do is make a request for a change in classification. "They aren't often turned down" If the second ranking employee makes more then the elected official it's because they have been there for along time and have more experience. These second ranking employees are most likely running the offices.

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heboprotagonist 2 years, 11 months ago

All elected officials are public servants. Public servants should receive zero compensation. Let's remove income from the equation and see how many are willing to volunteer their services for the good of the community.

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jerry carlton 2 years, 11 months ago

Do not know who is making too little money or who is making too much. Will tell you what is a fact. My property taxes in 1999 were 1093.32. My property taxs in 2010 were 2119.16. That is a 93% increase in 11 years. My income increased at nothing close to that rate. I imagine that the only thing that increased more than that was health care costs. Seems to me that the government is taking too much of my money no matter what they are doing with it.

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Scott Glynn 2 years, 11 months ago

Spidermite:

My point was that we don't know what these people do besides just the title of their position. Makes it awfully hard to judge whether or not it is equitable

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sledneck 2 years, 11 months ago

Elected officials are public servants? Yeah, Right. And I'm a jet airplane. Politicians go in poor and come out rich; they screw up everything they touch and I'm supposed to believe they are my servant?

JLC... You got it right. They are killing me and starving my family.

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