BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – The state-mandated Lee County Compensation Board has recommended that Lee County elected officials and their deputies receive a 3% across the board raise for the next budget year.
Former Lee County Assessor Theresa Murray made the motion after five members of the seven-member board heard from the county’s elected officials. The recommendation was approved 4-1 with former State Sen. Gene Fraise casting the lone dissent.
Fraise said a 1% recommendation was more in line with what he was hearing from county residents, specifically farmers.
Iowa Code 331.905 establishes the board as a seven-member board comprised of two Board of Supervisors appointees and one each representing the county’s attorney, auditor, recorder, treasurer and sheriff’s office. Wednesday’s board had five members present.
Each of the county’s elected officials said they were happy with their salaries, but said their deputies are tied to their salary rate and they wanted to get those employees a pay increase.
The Lee County Board of Supervisors has the final say in any rate increases, but it cannot by law go over the recommendation from the compensation board. It can, however, reduce the recommendations, including the 3% bump to supervisor’s pay.
Supervisor Chairman Gary Folluo said he wasn’t going to seek a raise as a supervisor. He said when the board went from three supervisors to five, committee assignments became more manageable. Folluo said the benefits of being a county employee also made serving more attractive.
Murray said the county’s health plan is like adding $10/hour to county employee salaries.
Supervisor Ron Fedler said he was happy making what he was as a supervisor, but said the board is in the bottom five counties in Iowa as far as pay, and to attract quality candidates in the future, the pay may have to be increased at some point.
Board member Kathy Gabel initially offered a 3% across the board increase with a 1 to 2% increase for Supervisors.
“Doesn’t just about everybody give a 3% raise if you’re doing your job worth a hoot every year?” Kabel said.
Former State Sen. Gene Fraise said from what he’s hearing that 1% would be sufficient.
“If you look at all the surrounding counties we’re right in there,” Fraise said.
Murray said she was concerned that giving the elected officials a 1% raise, would put elected department heads behind what could come out of union employee negotiations.
“If the union’s get 2% during negotiations, you’re giving these elected department heads a 1%,” Murray said. “So if we recommend say 3% and they determine the union people are going to get 2, then they can at least give these people 2.”
She said if they recommend 1%, supervisors wouldn’t be able to give the elected officials anymore than the 1%.
Gabel said if you gave Ross Braden, who makes $110,000 per year, a 1% raise that would amount to $52 a paycheck.
“And that’s a nice little bump,” Fraise said.
The recommendations now become part of the Board of Supervisors budgeting process that is set to begin in January.