SALARIES GO TO $77,185 NEXT TERM
An eight percent raise increase in base pay for countywide elected positions.
That’s what officeholders decided upon–in a split vote–at a meeting of the Platte County Salary Commission on Monday, Oct. 30.
The salary commission, which is comprised of the actual elected officeholders, meets every two years to consider salaries for the elected positions they currently hold. Per the state constitution, any salary increases cannot be put into effect until the next term begins for each office, in other words, until the current officeholder will have run for re-election.
The eight percent increase will move the base salary for elected positions up to $77,185 in each officeholder’s next term of office, according to math done during the meeting by Shanna Burns, public administrator.
Currently, salaries for Platte County elected officials range from $65,339 for the two associate commissioners, to $67,339 for officeholders whose terms expire in 2024, to $71,443 for officeholders whose terms expire in 2026, according to information supplied to The Landmark by the county auditor.
Salaries for the prosecutor and sheriff, as set by the state, are $156,215 for the county prosecutor and $124,971 for the county sheriff. Salaries of the prosecutor and sheriff are not changed by anything done by the Platte County Salary Commission.
The motion to approve the eight percent increase for the next terms of office was approved by a vote of 5-3.
Those voting in favor of the increase were Scott Fricker, presiding commissioner; Kevin Robinson, county auditor; Jera Pruitt, county clerk; Shanna Burns, public administrator; and Rob Willard, county treasurer.
Voting against were Joe Vanover, second district county commissioner; Dagmar Wood, first district county commissioner; and Christopher Wright, county recorder of deeds.
Sheila Palmer, county collector, was absent, as was David Cox, county assessor.
The prosecutor, Eric Zahnd, has never taken part in salary commission meetings, since the discussion has no impact on his salary. Though his salary is set by the state, Sheriff Mark Owen in the past has taken an active role in discussion at salary commission meetings, but he did not attend this year.
Vanover spoke to the reason for his opposition by saying: “Compensation should be set high enough to attract and retain quality employees. Looking around this table I see high quality people. This is why salaries do not need to be raised.”
Willard and Fricker advocated that since the eight percent pay increase covers a four-year term of office, the average annual increase is equal to two percent over the four years.
“It’s effectively two percent per year,” Fricker said.
Fricker had initially made a motion for a 10 percent pay increase for the positions, but later amended his motion, first to six percent and then to eight percent.
Willard had gathered salary information from several other counties in the state, also supplying information such as population and assessed valuation in those counties.
As far as counties in this geographical area, Buchanan County, with considerably lower population and assessed valuation totals, pays its officeholders $70,040.
Meanwhile, Platte’s neighbors in Clay, with more than twice as much population nearly twice as much assessed valuation, pays their officeholders $78,937 (the last Clay County official under the first class system term expires on Dec. 31, 2024).
In addition, at its every-two-years meeting the salary commission takes a position on whether to recommend to the county commission a cost of living adjustment (COLA).
The vote on a COLA is simply a recommendation to be made to the county commission at budget time. The county commission would have the final say on whether the recommendation for a COLA would be followed and budgeted.
A motion to recommend no cost of living pay increase for the officeholders was approved 5-3. Voting in favor of a recommendation of no COLA were Fricker, Wood, Vanover, Wright and Willard. Voting against a no COLA recommendation were Burns, Pruitt, and Robinson.