County commissioners Wednesday put off giving five elected officials a raise until at least June and reduced the salary of another elected official who holds an office the commission would like to see eliminated.
After discussing elected officials' salaries in a public hearing, Commissioners Gary Herbert and Malcolm Beck declined to second motions by Commissioner Sid Sandberg to increase the salaries of the sheriff and clerk/auditor. Sandberg had recommended increasing the sheriff's salary from $42,614 to $50,264, and increasing the clerk/auditor's salary from $42,614 to $48,880.Beck and Herbert said a salary survey needs to be conducted before considering the raises. Both said there may be salary inequities but, if so, that will be revealed by the survey. Next year's budget includes $35,000 for the salary survey.
Commissioners did, however, approve a motion to decrease the surveyor's salary to $1,000 annually contingent on the salary for the new office of public works director being set equal to or greater than the current surveyor's salary of $42,614. Earlier in the meeting it was suggested that the public works director's salary be set at about $55,000.
State law requires the county have a surveyor, but commissioners said there is no longer a need for one and the Legislature should eliminate the office. Clyde Naylor is the elected surveyor but serves primarily as county engineer. Commissioners expect to appoint Naylor as public works director when the position becomes official next month.
Sandberg said the increases are necessary to make the pay commensurate with the duties of the three officials. The clerk /auditor is now doing the work of what were two separate offices, and the sheriff and public works director have a heavier workload than other county officials. And in some cases, subordinates are making more than department heads.
"I think it's reasonable and fair that the sheriff be compensated more than those he supervises," Sandberg said.
The increases are not intended to reflect the performance of current officials, but to establish a competitive salary to entice future candidates, Sandberg said.
Sandberg also proposed giving elected officials a periodic cost-of-living increase along with other county employees. He said elected officials have lost purchasing power because they have not received a salary increase since 1985. The proposal did not include raises for the commissioners.
Herbert said it is important that the survey compare all elected officials' salaries. He said people should not be attracted to public office because salaries are better than those in the private sector.
"I don't believe the position of government is to be the pinnacle of the work force," he said.
Beck said the cost of living in Utah County has been lower over the past five years than the national average. He said the survey should compare salary increases for all professionals during the past five years, as well as similar positions in surrounding cities and counties.
When looking at salaries, Beck said, many are forgetting to include benefits, which amounts to about 32 percent of an official's salary. The cost of providing those benefits has risen a total of $300,000 in the last two years and other areas have had to absorb the increase. He said elected officials' salaries are still higher than the rates paid similar positions in the private sector.
"That's hard to say, but that's the fact," Beck said.
Beck said the survey should be completed in June, when mid-year budget adjustments are made.
This is the third time that Sandberg has been unsuccessful in his attempt to increase elected officials' salaries. He first proposed increasing the salaries of the sheriff and clerk/auditor, and to make the public works director's salary comparable to the sheriff's in October. In June, he proposed giving elected officials a cost-of-living increase similar to other county employees.
Commissioners increased the county attorney's salary to $63,500 in March, which takes effect Jan. 7 when Kay Bryson takes office.