Pay increases are recommended for elected officials in Benton County

Benton County’s Compensation Board met with elected officials on January 5 in Vinton.

Compensation board had annual meeting on January 5

By Jim Magdefrau

VINTON – A key part of the budget process for Benton County’s 2022-23 fiscal year was held Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, as the Benton County Compensation Board met at the Benton County Service Center, Vinton. The compensation board’s annual role is to make a recommendation on salaries for elected officials in Benton County.

They discussed the impact of population changes, Tax Increment Financing districts, the county’s budget, Covid costs, remote working, American Rescue Plan, keeping experienced employees, challenges in hiring new employees, inflation, the cost of the loan for a new radio system for emergency officials, who pays taxes, health care, a new law affecting the sheriff’s pay, and Benton County being a pleasant place to work.

Law enforcement

Sheriff Ron Tippett explained the new state law on setting salaries for sheriffs throughout the state, in comparison to what other law enforcement officials are being paid, such as Highway Patrol troopers, as well as city police officers, and sheriff’s departments in the state’s counties. The average salary for those cities with a population comparable to Benton County is $124,146. He also compared salaries of state patrol officials, with an average of $123,645. For Benton County, this would be an increase of between 28 and 29 percent.

Tippett added that any time they hire somebody they have to compete with Black Hawk, Linn and Johnson Counties. Benton County’s wages are lower than the neighboring counties, so they try to do things to attract people, such as a hiring bonus. He felt that every time he hires someone, he’s stealing them from somewhere else.

Tippett stressed that in order for the county to compete, they will have to provide more money. “We can’t hire people if we can’t compete in the market place,” he stressed.

Recommendation

The first recommendation was to increase the sheriff’s pay by 28.5 percent, which was approved. 

As for the other elected officials, the compensation board recommended 10 percent. The supervisors chair will also get a $1,000 stipend.

Benton County Attorney David Thompson pointed out before the vote that the county has been conservative in pay increases in the past decade, while they continue to see other counties go higher. 

Auditor Hayley Rippel pointed out the supervisors may reduce the increase, and that has to be the same across the board. The board will act on this before they approve the county’s budget. 

The compensation board has Nick Volk and Karen Mouchka representing the supervisors; Terry Harrington representing the county attorney, John Yundt for the recorder, Janay Bendull for the treasurer, Amy Van Wechel for the auditor; and Anders Norgaard for the sheriff. Norgaard could not attend, so the sheriff was represented by Lynn Schoenmann.

The current salary, percentage increase, and recommended salary are in the accompanying table.

Official        Current        Recommended 
                Salary         Salary for FY22 
Auditor (10%)   $81,201.56     $89,321.72 
Treasurer (10%) $76,793.12     $84,472.43 
Recorder (10%)  $76,793.12     $84,472.43 
Attorney (10%)  $115,922.92    $127,515.21 
Sheriff (28.5%) $96,236.74     $123,664.21 
Supervisor (10%)$43,895.16     $48,284.68 
(Chairman)      $44,895.16     $49,284.68 
$1000 stipend 

Meeting Link on YouTube

Audio from meeting

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