Elected county officials will see a wage increase of up to 6 ½ percent beginning in 2019 after the County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution setting wages for a four-year period.
The board approved wage increases for all county departments and the supervisors, themselves, after a discussion during Wednesday’s regular meeting. The wages will go into effect in 2019 and are set for four years, following the election cycle.
Per the resolution, all elected positions other than supervisors will receive a 6 ½ percent pay increase in 2019, followed by 3 percent increases for each of the following three years.
This amounts to an annual wage of $68,590.12 in 2022 for the Gage County assessor, clerk, clerk of the district court, register of deeds and treasurer.
The sheriff will be paid $85,157.53 in 2022 following the increase schedule, and the county attorney will be paid $102,879 that year.
The part-time county surveyor will be paid $27,504.78 at the end of the cycle.
Board member Terry Jurgens said the increases were driven in part by comparisons to other counties that showed Gage County officials were compensated below the median.
“We looked at the array of counties that we’re in with, and at first glance, it was fairly obvious that Gage County officials were below the median,” Jurgens said. “We came up with what we felt was a good solution to get closer to the median and make them comparable.”
It was pointed out during the meeting that under the rate increase, elected officials in 2022 would be at the average wage in 2018, and will likely still be paid below the average at that time.
Much of Wednesday’s debate concerned the wages for County Board members, themselves.
The initial proposal called for board members to receive the same increases of 6 ½ percent the first year and 3 percent each of the following three years, the same rate of increase as the other offices, totaling $27,504.78.
Board member Gary Lytle said this was too much of an increase. He cited county valuations, the farm economy and the ongoing Beatrice 6 legal battle as reasons supervisors shouldn’t receive a 6 ½ percent increase in 2019.
“I do think that we need to be conservative with what we’re doing in the times we’re in,” Lytle said. “I’m agreeable that there’s a raise for the elected officials. If we are going with what is offered at this point, I disagree with the Board of Supervisors getting that type of raise to go along with it.”
He made a motion to increase the board members’ annual wage by 1.5 percent each year for the four years in total. The motion died without a second.
Board member John Hill moved to amend the resolution setting the wage increase for County Board members at 3 percent for each of the four years.
This motion passed 5-1, with Hill, Lytle, Erich Tiemann, Dennis Byars and Myron Dorn voting in favor and Terry Jurgens voting in opposition.
Under the amendment, County Board members will be paid $26,488.45 in 2022 compared to the $27,504.78 they would have received in 2022 under the initial 6 ½ percent proposal.
The board chairman receives an additional $100 per month.
Dorn said the board takes wage discussions seriously, and the ultimate increases were the result of several discussions.
“There’s been a lot of discussion amongst ourselves and at committees,” Dorn said. “This isn’t something that we take lightly. This is important for the next four years for everybody involved.”