On eve of election, Franklin county mulls commissioner’s salary

The Franklin County Courthouse on North Fourth Avenue in Pasco.
The Franklin County Courthouse on North Fourth Avenue in Pasco. Tri-City Herald

The Franklin County commission is tinkering with commissioner pay on the eve of the Nov. 6 election.

Tuesday, the commission will vote on whether to continue paying an annual salary of $94,325 to the winner of the contest between Republican Clint Didier and Democrat Zahra Roach for the county District 3 position.

If the current three-man commission votes “no,” the winner will earn the statutory minimum of $14,900 when he or she takes office in January.

A “yes” vote will set the salary at the higher level through 2022. That’s the same amount the other two commissioners are currently paid.

Across the river, Benton County commissioners are paid $107,700 annually.

Didier and Roach were the top two finishers in a four-way primary in August. Incumbent Rick Miller, a Republican, did not survive the primary.

He is paid $94,325 but authorization to pay above the state-set minimum expires with his term.

Tuesdays’ vote carries shades of a similar election day vote in 2016.

In a testy session, the commission voted 2-1 to raise the salaries for the other two positions held by commissioners Brad Peck and Bob Koch, to match the higher salary of Rick Miller.

Peck and Koch were both standing for re-election and had to vote on the issue before the election.

Miller voted “no,” saying he preferred a smaller raise and also that his salary should be lowered to $91,000.

Peck and Koch disagreed and raised the commissioner pay from $89,300 to $94,325. Both won re-election and are midway through four-year terms.

Miller earned more than his peers in 2016 through a combination of staggered elections and the county’s past practice of awarding cost of living adjustments to commissioners. They also receive health benefits and use of a county car.

Dider Roach.jpg
Republican Clint Didier and Democrat Zahra Roach are running for Franklin County Commisison in the Nov. 6 general election.

Tuesday’s vote will reaffirm that Peck’s and Koch’s salaries will not change. Their salary rates will be the same through 2020.

The unusual election timing is based on state law. Elected officials may not award themselves raises during their terms. New salaries are set before elections and take effect after the winners are sworn in, or re-sworn in if an incumbent is re-elected.

The 2016 vote generated plenty of heat and has been an issue raised during this year’s campaign.

Didier says the commissioners are paid too much, and that he would do the job for $60,000.

If elected, Didier said he would consider putting the “gap” difference into an employee award program.

Roach has suggested the county consider a council form of government with a paid administrator and elected board that is paid a stipend rather than full salaries with benefits.

The commission meets at 9 a.m. at the Franklin County Courthouse, 1016 N. Fourth Ave., Pasco.

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514