Utah County Attorney Steve Killpack may make less than attorneys for several other Utah counties, but his salary is typical of a problem workers throughout the county know all too well: low wages.
"Something is wrong with wages," County Commission Chairman Brent Morris said of local salaries. "It's a symptom of a greater problem in the county."Nevertheless, he said, the county probably will be able to get qualified candidates to run for county attorney in two years for what Killpack is making now.
Utah County per capita income is about $3,000 less than the state average, while median family income is $6,000 below state average. Statewide, 12.3 percent of incomes are below the poverty level, compared to 15.3 percent in Utah County.
Killpack, who makes an average of $13,700 less than attorneys in at least five Utah counties with considerably smaller populations, told commissioners last week they should be willing to pay a full-time salary for a full-time attorney.
Killpack makes $44,616 a year - the same amount paid to his predecessor, Noall Wootton, who worked part time as county attorney.
Commissioners this week were scheduled to vote on whether to review Killpack's salary and then hold a public hearing, which is required when salary increases are considered for elected officials. On Monday, however, Killpack asked commissioners to widen their review of wages to all county departments and not to consider his salary separately.
"There's no sense going through the process just for one individual," he said.
Killpack said he has turned his position into a full-time job as he pledged during his 1986 election campaign. But the commission has not made good on an agreement made while Wootton was in office to pay a full-time salary of up to $70,000, he said.
Nevertheless, "I'm not making any demands for a salary increase, and I'm not backing off anything," Killpack said in reference to what he termed an "inaccurate" story published Monday in a newspaper.
Killpack suggested commissioners approve an increase in the attorney's salary to take place after the next election, in 1990. He told commissioners last week that the county will have trouble attracting good attorney candidates unless a salary increase is granted.
Morris, who has the same wage as Killpack, disagrees.
"I don't think the wage is as great a deterrent for people applying for the job as is the risk they take in running for office," he said, because of the difficulties they face when getting back into private practice.
"I think it's possible to hire another attorney at the same wage. We'll see during the next election if anyone applies."