When Utah County Commissioner Sid Sandberg proposed a raise for three county officials Monday, he realized the other two commissioners probably would balk at the idea.
But he hoped it would wake them up to the inequities in county officials' salaries.And evidently it did. Commissioners Gary Herbert and Malcolm Beck balked at the request but agreed Wednesday to review county officials' salaries next month during the budget process. And Sandberg hoped they would do at least that.
Sandberg requested about a $150-a-week raise for the county sheriff and about a $120-a-week raise for the clerk/auditor. He also recommended setting the new public works director's salary at the same level as the sheriff's and recommended the surveyor's salary be set at $10 a year.
(The reason for the nominal surveyor salary is that the county no longer uses a surveyor, but state law requires one. Currently County Surveyor Clyde Naylor serves as both the surveyor and engineer, with the engineering duties consuming most of his time. On Jan. 7 the county engineer title will be changed to public works director. Naylor, who is running unopposed as surveyor, likely is to be appointed to the new position.)
Sandberg said he only requested raises for the sheriff, auditor/clerk and public works director and not other county officials because they have a bigger workload and direct more employees. He said each county official's salary should reflect the responsibilities of the office.
"I think we need to have the compensation reflect the work that's being done," Sandberg said.
Beck said it would be inappropriate to review only a selected few officials' salaries. He said all salaries should be reviewed.
"I was willing to do that this summer, and it didn't get anywhere," Sandberg said, referring to his failed attempt in May to give all elected officials a 2 percent raise - excluding commissioners.
Sandberg said that even with his recommended raise, officials would still be underpaid. In some cases department heads are now making less than their subordinates.
"For example, in the sheriff's office there are captains that are making more at this time than Sheriff Bateman. And that's not right," Sandberg said.
Sandberg said if salaries are not increased to a competitive level it will be difficult to attract qualified candidates. Sheriffs in Salt Lake, Weber and Davis counties, and police chiefs in Provo and Orem make more than Bateman. And public works directors for Provo and Orem make more than the county's new public works director will make.
"If you fail to protect that salary over time then you're not going to attract individuals to run that will provide the kind of service the county needs," Sandberg said.
Utah County's elected officials have not received a raise since 1985. During that same period, county employees have received a total of about 10 percent in increases.
Balancing out officials' salaries
One of Commissioner Sid Sandberg's arguments for raises is that the heads of seven Utah County departments make exactly the same amount of money - $42,614 a year - even though their supervisory responsibilities vary greatly. Here is the breakdown of the seven departments with the number of employees in each.
Sheriff's office 137
Public Works 64
Assessor's office 29
Attorney's office 26
Clerk/auditor's office 17
Recorder's office 17
Treasurer's office 7