Franklin County commissioners plans an unusual election day meeting Nov. 8 to consider raising the pay of all county employees, elected officials and themselves.
The special session is at 9 a.m. at the Franklin County Courthouse in Pasco, where they will consider setting new pay rates for the three elected commissioners and give raises to county employees, as well as the sheriff, auditor, treasurer, assessor, clerk, coroner and other elected officials.
Under state law, county commissioners cannot raise their own salaries during their current terms.
That’s key since two of the three county commissioners face opponents on Nov. 8 . Incumbent Brad Peck is being challenged by the county’s elected auditor, Matt Beaton. And incumbent Bob Koch is facing Pasco businessman Rocky Mullen.
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Rick Miller, chairman of the commission, said salary discussions normally start earlier in the year, but there was little interest in the topic last spring.
My goal is to give them a cost of living adjustment. This is a priority for me.
Rick Miller, Franklin County Commissioner
Peck, who proposed the resolution that froze county commissioner salaries four years ago, said he’s not leading the salary conversation and is willing to be paid a token amount.
Miller’s seat is not up for election until 2018 and will not be affected until then by any salary change adopted now.
The county has not published a proposed salary schedule. However, Miller said he plans to propose awarding 2 percent raises to all county employees retroactive to Sept. 1, and an additional 2 percent effective Jan. 1, 2017, for an effective raise of about 4.25 percent.
“My goal is to give them a cost of living adjustment. This is a priority for me,” Miller said.
Miller also will propose raises for the county’s elected officials, including commissioners. His plan includes a 4 percent raise for the other elected officials, bringing their annual salaries to about $90,000.
And he plans to suggest a $2,000 raise for commissioners. That would raise the salaries for the seats currently held by Peck and Koch to about $91,000 after the new terms begin in 2017.
Because of the staggered election cycle and the past practice of awarding cost of living adjustments to commissioners, Miller’s current salary is $95,000. That would drop to the $91,000 level in 2019 when the next term begins, he said.
State law sets minimum salaries for elected officials if county leaders decline to do so. For a county the size of Franklin, it is $14,900 per year for all elected leaders.
This process is not going to leave employees last in line. It’s going to put them in front of the line.
Keith Johnson, Franklin County administrator
County Administrator Keith Johnson said raising salaries for Franklin County’s notoriously underpaid workers has been a priority for the commission as it develops a budget for 2017.
He said the county can afford to boost salaries after 2016 revenues came in higher than projected. Too, its new anti-fraud software is providing managers with a clearer picture of their finances, giving them more room to trim expenses.
Johnson said boosting salaries is a top priority in the budget talks.
“This process is not going to leave employees last in line. It’s going to put them in front of the line,” he said.
The county has reached agreements with most of its employee unions and is still negotiating with its courthouse employees. It hopes to reach an agreement without going to arbitration, he said.