What should chief deputies’ pay be?

Posted August 9, 2017 at 3:59 pm

By Julie Ann Madden

What is fair pay for Union County’s chief deputies?

Chief deputies are assistants to department heads in the Union County employment system.

The offices of the treasurer, register of deeds, auditor, and assessor have chief deputies.

Chief deputies’ salaries are set by the perimeters of Salary Range No. 2, which ranges between $29,972 and $42,530.

At their June 20 meeting, the Union County Commissioners set salaries of several employees who were being promoted due to the vacancies created by the retirements of Chief Deputy Treasurer Linda Roggow and Auditor Carol Klumper.

At a previous meeting, it was stated those taking the positions of current employees would be given the salary of the position they were taking.

For example, effective July 1, Chief Deputy Jackie Sieverding, whose current salary was $39,157.08 annually, would begin receiving Auditor Carol Klumper’s current annual salary of $53,718.

This promotion and salary change was unanimously approved by the Commission at the June 20 meeting. She was appointed to fill the Klumper’s term until Feb. 28, 2019.

It was the only appointment to get the previous employee’s salary.

Sieverding recommended Cammy Abbey be promoted to her chief deputy position with an annual salary of $32,903.04. Abbey has worked in the Auditor’s Office for six years. Sieverding noted she planned for this salary to be through the end of the year, then she plans to increase Abbey’s wage to the Salary Range No. 2’s MidPoint.

The current MidPoint is $35,256 but Abbey’s 2018 salary wage would include whatever the department heads decide based on the amount allocated by the commissioners when they decide the FY 2018 salaries.

Commissioners have budgeted a 75-cents per hour wage increase for each employee for FY 2018, which begins Jan. 1, 2018. Plus, sheriff’s field deputies, but not jailers or dispatch staff, will receive an additional $1 per hour raise; and longevity pay, based on years or service with a maximum of to $1,000 will be reinstated. Although budgeted, the actual FY 2018 salary increases will be determined in December.

Per Sieverding Deputy’s recommendation, Auditor’s Office employees salaries were set as follows: Cammy Abbey, chief deputy, $32,903.04 annually; Lori Boulware, $100 per month for Data Processing duties; and Carol Sommervold, increase her hours to 21 hours in the Auditor’s Office with a pay increase to $16.50 per hour. She will no longer work part-time in the Treasurer’s Office.

The Auditor’s Office personnel changes were motioned by Commissioner Richard Headid and seconded by Tom Kimmel with the votes being 5-0.

Discrepancy in Salaries

Commissioners questioned why Chief Deputy Cammy Abbey’s salary recommendation was below the MidPoint but the recommendation for Treasurer’s Chief Deputy Joy Hemmingson was above the MidPoint. Abbey has worked six years and Hemmingson three years.

Treasurer Myron Hertel recommended Hemmingson’s salary be $36,522, which is the salary of retiring Chief Deputy Linda Roggow, who has served 14 years.

It was also noted:

• Assessor’s Office Chief Deputy Sherri Bousquet’s salary was $31,543.32 and she has worked for six years.

• Register of Deeds Office’s Chief Deputy Colleen Mead’s salary was $36,000 with 13 years experience.

Highway Department’s Cristy Harkness has worked 31 years and her salary is $39,157.08.

Why are we giving a short-term employee the wage of a long-term employee, asked Commissioner Michael Dailey, giving the example Sieverding had 26 years of experience while Klumper had 39 years.

We’ve given department heads the authority to hire someone up to the MidPoint, said Commission Chairman Milt Ustad. “I don’t see how we can do one below and one above the MidPoint.”

Commissioner Kevin Joffer pointed out Hemmingson’s proposed salary would also exceed Register of Deeds Chief Deputy Colleen Mead’s salary of $36,000.

Later in the meeting, Hertel explained he was following the earlier directive of giving the new chief deputy the same salary as the previous one.

“My issue is having a chief deputy making less than another employee (even though that other employee has been here 24 years),” said Hertel.

Joffer replied an employee’s length of service was another issue.

When pressed to lower it to MidPoint, Hertel suggested $35,250 or $35,000.

Headid made a motion to set Hemmingson’s salary at $35,000 and Dailey seconded it. The vote was unanimous.

“My whole concern is that we treat everybody the same in those chief deputy positions,” said Joffer, noting that by going clear to the MidPoint, some could receive significant raises of about $10,000 annually. The person who steps in shouldn’t necessarily make what it took the last person many years to make.

“I think you can get into some situations of unintended consequence if you don’t follow some form of schedule,” said Joffer, adding one can’t use the salary schedule without taking into consideration the years of service.

Commissioner Tom Kimmel questioned why the commissioners were not just letting the department heads decide — “We’re talking about people who work in different offices. There could be more requirements in one office than another. There are departments that require more qualifications than others.”

“I guess if this is the range that’s been adopted we almost have to follow it right now,” Joffer concluded, suggesting the county do a wage study. “As a board we’ve got to have some consistency.”

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