Salary commission endorses county raise

After Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson reviewed a recent case involving another county and found it would have no impact on elected officials salaries here, the county’s salary commission voted to give themselves a cost-of-living raise — if all other county employees get one.

Morgan County Treasurer Louella Pryor recently won a court order for $93,600 in back pay, plus interest and additional retirement plan contributions. She had argued her salary had been kept too low in the commission process.

Richardson found this would have no bearing on Cole County, so the salary commission went ahead with its motion which was approved at a Nov. 6 meeting.

County Auditor Jim LePage submitted a 3 percent raise for all employees in his proposed budget, given as a combination of a cost-of-living adjustment and a merit/longevity component.

The County Commission is going through the budget and will consider the raise. The budget must be adopted by Jan. 10.

For many years, the Legislature set county officials’ salaries, based on assessed property evaluations.

That changed in the 1980s, when lawmakers approved the salary commission idea for all counties without charters, and designated the county elected officials to serve on the panel as the commissioners, recorder of deeds, county clerk, sheriff, prosecuting attorney, assessor, collector, treasurer, auditor, public administrator and, in some counties, the elected coroner.

The law also requires “the salary commission (to) be responsible for the computation of salaries of all county officials” — but it must give the same percentage increase or decrease to all the officials.

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