If Utah County wants a full-time attorney, it should be willing to pay full-time salaries, County Attorney Steve Killpack told county commissioners Wednesday.
Killpack said the county attorney hasn't had a raise in four years, even though six raises were granted between 1976 and 1985. Killpack took office two years ago."I cannot make the commitment to the public of serving on a full-time basis without your help," he said. "I've got to either look for other employment or I've got to look at going into private practice."
During his election campaign, Killpack pledged to turn the attorney position into a full-time job, which he has done.
Killpack's predecessor, Noall Wootton, ran a private practice on the side to supplement his income. Killpack reminded commissioners that Wootton was offered $70,000 annually to work full time as county attorney.
Utah County has the second largest population of counties statewide, but according to a recent salary comparison, attorneys in six other counties make an average of $13,700, or 23.5 percent, more than Killpack. He suggested the county attorney's salary be increased by that average difference.
Attorneys for Orem and Provo cities make an average of $6,000 more and, Killpack added, even some of the deputy county attorneys make more than he does.
Commissioners, who admitted inadequacies in the salary schedule for some county employees, said changes need to be made.
"What it shows me is that we don't have a good system in place," Commission Chairman Brent Morris said. "That offends me . . . because of the responsibility you have."
Commissioner Malcolm Beck said a novice attorney makes more money in Salt Lake than Killpack. He praised Killpack for eliminating the positions of administrative assistant and chief deputy from the attorney's office when he took office in 1987.
"I think we need to do some study on it budget-wise," Personnel Director John McGuinn said.
Last June, McGuinn reported that Utah County commissioners, attorney and sheriff make about 23 percent less than their Salt Lake County counterparts. He said no elected county officials have had a salary increase since 1985 despite a rise in the urban Consumer Price Index of 8.63 percent.
Killpack said the county should consider implementing small annual raises, especially for career-oriented county employees. Large one-time adjustments, he said, fan public mistrust and anger.
"Salary issues are sensitive. No matter what you do with them, it's going to be difficult."
Killpack said he feels the attorney's office is running better than it ever has, but said the county will have trouble attracting good attorney candidates during the next election without a salary hike.
County attorney salaries
County attorney salaries
Salt Lake $63,640 702,500
Sevier $60,000 15,600
Davis $58,500 180,000
Weber $49,000 158,500
Cache $48,021 65,500
Duchesne $46,945 15,200
Utah $44,616 240,500
*As of 1987