The Louisa County Compensation Board approved Fiscal Year 2019 salary increase recommendations ranging from 2.4 percent to 4 percent during its annual meeting Thursday.
The board unanimously approved 2.4 percent increases for Sheriff Brad Turner and supervisors Randy Griffin, Chris Ball and Brad Quigley, but split its vote on other recommendations.
On a vote of 5-1, the board approved a 3.4 percent recommendation for County Attorney Adam Parsons’ salary, with board member and former county supervisor Dave Wilson, representing the supervisors, casting the lone dissent. Voting for the higher recommendation were former County Attorney Jay Schweitzer, auditor representative; Bryan Hoben, supervisors; Valerie Crump, county attorney; Jolene Strawhacker, treasurer; and former County Assessor Greg Johnson, recorder. There was no representative for the sheriff’s office.
The board also approved a 4 percent recommendation for Auditor Sandi Elliott, Treasurer Vickie Frank and Recorder Leanne Black. The vote on that recommendation was 4-2, with Hoben joining Wilson in casting a no vote.
The recommendations are expected to be presented next week to the Louisa County Board of Supervisors, which can either accept the proposal or cut the recommendation by the same amount across the board. Under Iowa law the supervisors cannot raise the recommendations.
Under the recommendations, Turner would see his current $73,103 salary increase to $74,858. The $27,194 salary currently paid to each supervisor would increase to $27,847. Parsons’ current salary of $64,035 would rise to $66,212. Elliott, Frank and Black currently earn $51,432, which would grow to $53,489 if the recommendation is accepted by the supervisors.
During a work session prior to the meeting where the recommendations were approved, the compensation board members indicated they felt hemmed in between compensating officials for doing a good job and trying to hold down county taxes.
“I’m concerned about going too high,” Wilson told the group in explaining his opposition to the higher percentage increases.
Hoben agreed the higher recommendation could be a problem for the county.
“We are not a rich county,” he said, adding however he also wanted to keep good employees.
Parsons pointed out that had become a problem in his office.
“I make a decent wage and I consider my job public service, but my concern is staff assistance,” he said.
Like all elected county offices, the compensation board sets salary recommendations for Parsons, but under state law those increases also trickle down to each offices’ first and second deputies. By law, the first deputy cannot make more than 85 percent of the elected official’s salary, while the second deputy is limited to a maximum of 80 percent of that salary. The elected official in each office actually sets those deputies salaries, but cannot exceed the legal limits.
Parsons said his office and the sheriff’s office have both experienced a significant turnover in deputies and he attributed part of that to salaries.
“I have a real concern about my ability to have staff,” he said, explaining he has received few applications during recent turnovers.
Johnson suggested other county offices might find themselves in a similar situation if elected officials’ wages continued a falling trend compared with similar counties.
“I think we have good people here (and) I’m thinking we have to play catch up,” he said.