Despite budget crisis, Island County elected officials to get raises this year

While some Island County workers wonder about job security, elected officials in Island County will see fatter paychecks in the coming year.

The reason? A resolution adopted 15 years ago by Island County commissioners.

A perpetual pay increase for elected officials was adopted on a 2-0 vote in August 1994, by former commissioners Mac McDowell and Mike Shelton. It granted a 5 percent raise in commissioners’ salaries that would kick in on every odd-numbered year, and included no “sunset” date.

The resolution also allowed for the salaries of every other elected official in Island County to be raised on a percentage that was based on the salary of the commissioners.

In the salary schedule considered at the time, commissioners expected their salaries would increase by more than $10,000 between 1995 and 2001.

This year, the salary increase for commissioners amounts to a $3,737 raise. The annual salary for a commissioner will move to $78,496 from $74,758.

In 2011, it is expected to climb to $82,421.

The county assessor, auditor, clerk, coroner and treasurer will each get raises of $3,365 this year. The sheriff will get a $4,112 increase in salary in 2009.

The county’s prosecuting attorney will get a salary increase of $1,869.

In all, the total raises amount to $33,017.

Island County has been considering additional staff layoffs, as well as reduced hours for workers, to fill a $1 million hole in the budget. So far, the pay of elected officials has not entered into the discussion.

Commissioner John Dean said he wasn’t sure if the commissioners could legally cut the current pay rate for elected officials.

“That’s a good question and something I will have to look into,” he said.

Commissioner Helen Price Johnson said she was willing to consider pay reductions in light of the county’s current budget crisis.

“I think we need to look at everything,” Price Johnson said.

Elected officials aren’t the only ones who will earn more money from Island County in 2009.

Union employees in two of the county’s bargaining units will also get pay raises this year, according to Larry Larson, director of the county’s human resources department.

Larson could not recall the specific amount of those raises, but said they were part of contracts approved several years ago, he said.

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