County officials get half their desired raise

"Several elected officials have received half the pay raise they've requested from the Island County Commissioner.At their regular board meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved bumping the salaries of the auditor, assessor, treasurer, clerk and coroner from $54,892 to $58,121.By code, the salaries of Island County elected officials are set at 85 percent of that earned by the District 3 position on the Board of Commissioners, currently held by Bill Thorn.Last May, the heads of the five departments - County Clerk Marilee Black, Assessor Tom Baenen, Coroner Robert Bishop, Auditor Suzanne Sinclair and Treasurer Maxine Sauter - sent in a request to raise their pay ratio to 95 percent of the commissioner's salary.The commissioners gave them 90 percent, then suggested they will consider the remainder of the raise during budget workshops in September.We're not opposed to it intellectually, said Thorn of the 95 percent increase.Thorn said that, when considering pay increases, the commissioners look at the average salaries of officials in six comparatively-sized counties.We don't want to be the low guy, he said.The salary increase is absorbed out of the general fund's current expense, which has been hit exceptionally hard by the loss of state revenues following the passage of I-695 in 1999.Island County's operating budget has been cut by approximately $616,000.And that's the rub, said Thorn about the difficulties of granting the officials' full requests. At budget, we will consider another five percent.Thorn explained the 90 percent figure the commissioners arrived at by saying, The numbers just turned out that way, so that's what we've chosen.A list provided by the commissioners' office of salaries in similarly based comparable jurisdictions shows that, even with the raise, Island County elected officials are still receiving lower-than-average pay.The average salary of elected officials in the counties of Clallam, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason and Skagit is 95.5 percent of a commissioner's pay. "

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