Pollsters would have been tempted to describe this Platte County Commission vote as “too close to call.”
With commissioner Jim Plunkett absent on a planned family vacation in Florida, the Platte County commission approved 1-1 (with the presiding commissioner in essence breaking the tie with her trump vote in favor) a commission order authorizing a potential cost of living adjustment salary increase, or “COLA,” for the county’s elected officials whose new terms started Jan. 1.
Commissioner Tom Pryor voted against the officeholders’ potential salary increase.
Presiding commissioner Knight explained after the meeting that the COLA salary increase would only apply to officeholders who were elected or re-elected this past Nov. 7, 2006. The raise for officeholders is contingent upon county employees receiving a cost of living increase in 2007. The officeholders’ COLA can be no more than the cost of living increase granted to employees.
The list of Platte County officeholders who stand to gain financially from a COLA salary increase include: presiding commissioner Betty Knight; county clerk Sandy Krohne; county collector Donna Nash; recorder of deeds Gloria Boyer; and county auditor Siobhann Williams.
Knight also made a point of explaining that the COLA salary increase for new county officeholders will be equal to the “percentage increase given to all other county employees for the year 2007.”
County commissioners are engaging in 2007 budget discussions this week and have not decided whether or not to give the county’s employees raises for year 2007.
Pryor opposed the COLA salary increase for officeholders.
“I don’t want to vote for salary increases for elected officials,” Pryor said, after the Friday commission session concluded.
“I’d prefer it all to be dealt with by the salary commission. My preference would be for the salary commission to make the decision on salary increases for officeholders,” Pryor elaborated.
The commissioners were forced to make their decision on the COLA for officeholders at their last Friday meeting or not get the issue considered again for about one year.
“This is something that was discussed during the budget discussion,” Betty Knight said.
“There were salary increases for several county officeholders. This (COLA approval) has to be done before the end of the year to become effective for the next budget year,” Knight said.
“We forgot to put it on the agenda last week,” Knight said.
County counselor Robert H. Shaw confirmed the before-year-end requirement for the commission’s COLA eligibility earlier last week, Knight said.
Under the Missouri Constitution, pay raises for county officeholders must be made before the end of the prior year and cannot be given to mid-term officeholders, Shaw confirmed to The Landmark late Tuesday evening.
Salary increases create significant waves to a sensitive county budget.
“We project that on every one percentage increase in salary benefits, the costs to the county is about $100,000 per year,” Knight said.
The county commission met again, with commissioner Jim Plunkett returned from Florida, on Tuesday, Jan. 2, during one of the four Missouri “statutorily required” commission meetings during the calendar year, as Knight described them.
On Tuesday, beginning at about 9:30 a.m., the commissioners met in open work session in the conference room to begin laborious 2007 budget discussions.
Commissioners’ budget work sessions are scheduled for at least two hours every morning this week.
During the commissioners’ unscheduled comments, on Tuesday morning, presiding commissioner Betty Knight was the only commissioner to offer comment:
“It’s going to be a great year in the county. It’s a sad day because of the passing of President Ford. But it’s a sunny day today, and it’ll be a great day in Platte County,” Knight said.
In other business, discussion, votes and action, at the Friday and Tuesday meetings, the Platte County commissioners:
• Acknowledged a Jan. 1, 2007, semi-annual payment to Synergy Services, Inc., in the amount of $2,821.57 for the Victims of Domestic Violence Fund.
• Held a brief mandatory public hearing, during which no one from the public opted to speak, regarding almost $21,000 in budget transfers for the 2006 budget year. The transfers included $20,000 between lines in the county’s emergency preparedness department and a $908.74 transfer in the prosecuting attorney’s budget.
• Accepted the performance and maintenance bond for street paving improvements for the 14th plat of Thousand Oaks development. Silomatic Paving Co. will redeem the bond in the amount of $34,219.01.
• On the Tuesday consent calendar, certified the transportation sales tax expenditures for Parkville and Platte Woods.
• Re-appointed commissioner Tom Pryor to the University Outreach and Extension Council.
• Re-appointed Linda Cozad to the planning and zoning commission.
• Re-appointed Lori Haskell to the economic development council.
• Re-appointed Sallie Snook to the Senior Citizens’ Services Fund Board.