Nurses who are hired by Salt Lake County now can earn 25 percent more in starting pay.

County commissioners voted Wednesday to allow City/County Health Director Harry Gibbons to offer more money in an attempt to lure more nurses. A nursing shortage has led to long delays for people needing immunizations or other services.Because many people who use the county's health services are poor, they may get discouraged by long waits, Gibbons said.

Gibbons said nurses are going to hospitals that pay more. The county has a perpetual need for about nine nurses, he said.

Licensed practical nurses currently earn starting salaries of between $9 and $11 per hour. Registered nurses earn $12 to $15.

Previously, Gibbons had to receive approval from the commission for each person he wanted to pay more than the normal starting salary. Now, he is authorized to pay more by working only with the county's personnel office. Commissioners said they will consider officially raising the starting salaries in the future.