Commission just puts ‘dollars and cents’ in salaries

Posted September 12, 2013 at 2:06 pm

By Julie Ann Madden

For 2014, the only employees the Union County Commission will be setting salaries for is the elected officials and department heads directly under their authority.

All other county employees’ salaries will be decided by their department heads.

In August, Auditor Carol Klumper provided the following dollar amounts that each department, including elected officials’ salary changes, is receiving in their budgets. See adjacent chart.

Each department will receive a dollar amount, then the department heads will use the employee evaluation/review process to establish the salaries for individual employees, said Commissioner Ross Jordan, explaining the commissioners will just approve the department heads’ salary decisions. (Editor’s Note: At the Sept. 9 meeting, Jordan said the commission will decide whether to approve the recommended salaries based on department heads’ documentation for employees’ salary increases.)

For elected officials, a Compensation Board was formed and made a recommendation on what each elected officials’ salary should be.

Each elected official, except the county coroner who has a different pay structure, picked a person to represent his or her interests on this Compensation Board.

The board members were Elk Point-Jefferson Superintendent Brian Shanks, representing Auditor Carol Klumper; Carol LaBrune Well Life, representing Register of Deeds Jana Foltz; Bank 360 loan officer Andrew Jacobs, representing Treasurer Myron Hertels; David Prochello of USA Tire & Trucking, representing Sheriff Dan Limoges; attorney Jeffrey T. Myers, representing States Attorney Jerry Miller; and representing commissioners are retired Beresford Community School Superintendent Cortland Carnes and North Sioux City Economic Development Director Korey Menken, who later resigned and was replaced by Dakota Dunes Community Improvement District Manager Jeff Dooley.

On Sept. 9, the Commission released the board’s recommendations of salary increases:

States Attorney $14.000

Sheriff 7,000

Auditor 5,000

Register of Deeds 5,000

Treasurer 5,000

Commissioners 0

Total $36,000

“I was surprised they didn’t give you guys more than that,” said Karpen, explaining they had told the board “the sky’s the limit.”

The Commission created a formula using the elected officials’ 2013 salary total of $330,547.68 multiplied by the Consumer Price Index of 2.1 percent, resulting in the product of $6,941.50. They also took what percentage each of the recommended raise amounts were of the total $36,000. Finally, they figured out each elected official’s percentage resulting in the following 2014 salaries:

States Attorney $2,698.95

Sheriff 1,349.43

Auditor 963.48

Register of Deeds 963.48

Treasurer 963.48

Commissioners 0

Total $6,938.82

When Register of Deeds Jana Foltz responded, “That’s a far cry from the $5,000 recommended, Jordan responded “We can go to the other numbers and start cutting your hourly employees’ wages to make that happen. It’s your choice.”

“There is only so much money so we had to decide how to recognize the committee’s recommendations within the fiscal parameters that we have and that was the fairest way we could come up with.”

According to Karpen, the Compensation Board had three “future” recommendations:

• Whatever the CPI is would be the elected officials’ salary increase amount for the following year;

• At the Commissioners’ annual organizational meeting, commissioners determine elected positions’ salaries for the following year.

• In case of an elected official vacating his or her position or losing an election, whatever that elected official’s current salary would be the next elected official’s salary; and

• That the Compensation Board never meet again.

Sheriff Dan Limoges disagreed with a new elected official being paid the same as a veteran elected official.

“It’s an elected position,” said Jordan, “and elected positions are not based on experience.”

“You’re not being paid for your earning potential,” said Karpen. “You’re paid for being a public servant.”

Jordan noted senators all get the same wage, and Foltz responded then auditors, treasurers and registers of deeds should be paid the same since state code starts them at the same minimum salary. Jordan responded senators are not paid the same as representatives.

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