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County supervisors begin review of compensation board recommendation

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 10:56 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 11:01 a.m. CDT

The Union County Board of Supervisors is reviewing the unanimous recommendation by the 2014 compensation board and plans to make a decision early in the budget-making process.

“I think that reflects the idea that we have and I think the board does now that this ought to be a priority item,” said Union County Attorney Tim Kenyon. “Whether it has been the case or not in the past, there’s been some appearance that — and probably just the appearance — the salaries and the employees around here are one of the last things considered. I think the folks that work here really do put in a tremendous effort.”

The compensation board proposed a 3.5 percent wage adjustment for Kenyon and Sheriff Rick Piel and 3 percent wage adjustment for Auditor Sandy Hysell, Recorder Paula White, Treasurer Kelly Busch and Union County Board of Supervisors.

The board also suggested an additional 2 percent cost-of-living increase for all elected courthouse officials.

“You do your homework and you do a very thorough job,” Supervisor Dennis Brown said. “I want to see how it affects the whole budget and go through the whole process like we always have.”

While determining the final compensation, supervisors can reduce the amount proposed by the compensation board, but it must be reduced an equal percentage for each elected county official. The board of supervisors can consider the cost-of-living increase and wage adjustment separately.

“We looked at the last 10 years of wage approvals for just our specific county,” said Katie Turner, chairperson of the compensation board. “There was a lot of weight in regard to what they have had in increases in the past 10 years. Some of them were very few and far between.”

The compensation board — composed of Turner, Vice Chairman Tom Hartsock, Linda Marley, Dorothy McNaught, Jim Norman, Marlin Neisemier and John Tapken — is limited by Iowa Code 331.907.

It can review the compensation of the elected courthouse officials by comparing officers in other counties of the state or similar taxing entities such as high schools, colleges, a local hospital or city government.

The board cannot take into consideration outside factors like health-care benefits and county-tax rankings.

Turner explained how the high caseload in Union County contributed to the board’s recommendation of a higher wage increase for the attorney and sheriff.

The board reviewed Union County’s population ranking and the salary ranking of each elected official.

Turner said the goal is to try to keep the two rankings as close as possible.

Union County ranks 61st in population. The table above shows where the county officials rank and compare to Obrien, Shelby and Wright counties.

Hysell added each department can spend every penny out of the budget, but each elected official’s department was able to return unused money in their budget to the county’s general fund.

“Since we have turned this entire courthouse around, and all these departments went to bat to help us and have saved money and have returned money every single, solitary year that this has happened,” said Supervisor Lois Monday.

Hysell estimated the total impact of the recommendation would be around $36,000.

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