Archive for Tuesday, December 19, 2006

County’s year-end bonus

Commissioners increase salaries for themselves, elected officials

December 19, 2006


Douglas County commissioners on Monday gave themselves and other elected officials pay raises amounting to several thousand dollars per individual.

They say the move is to bring salaries in line with other Kansas counties of comparable size.

Commissioners will see their annual pay increase by more than 50 percent - from $21,507 to $32,552. The median household income in Douglas County was $38,868 in 2003, the most recent year available.

Raises also were given to Sheriff Ken McGovern (from $87,464 to $104,104), County Clerk Jamie Shew (from $56,264 to $68,369), Treasurer Paula Gilchrist (from $58,411 to $68,369) and Register of Deeds Kay Pesnell ($63,044 to $71,801).

The raises were recommended by the county administrator's office, which conducted a survey of what other Kansas counties were paying their elected officials. They include the 3.5 percent cost-of-living increase commissioners granted to all county employees for 2007. Commissioners also receive benefits that include medical and retirement.

The pay increases were part of the meeting's consent agenda and were approved without discussion.

Commission Chairman Bob Johnson said he had no qualms about increasing the pay to the other elected officials, saying they are good people doing a good job.

"I don't think anyone wants to take advantage of having people in a position where they are not adequately and properly compensated," he said.

At the same time, Johnson said it was "a little bit difficult" for him to give himself and fellow Commissioners Jere McElhaney and Charles Jones a raise.

"There is no way you can do it so that it doesn't appear to be self-serving," he said.

Jones said approving the increases was the right thing to do.

"It is getting harder and harder to get people to run for office," said Jones, who was recently re-elected without opposition. "The reason for that is very few people are willing to do it."

County commissioners get paid considerably more than their counterparts on the Lawrence City Commission. A Lawrence city commissioner is paid an annual salary of $9,000, with the mayor receiving $10,000. Lawrence school board members do not receive pay for their jobs. State law prevents pay for school board members.

"I've said for some time to my friends on the City Commission that they need fairer compensation," Jones said. "You are just not going to get people to run for office if they can't afford to win."

City and county commissioners are considered to have part-time positions. County commissioner McElhaney, however, said depending on the season, he sometimes works as much as 40 to 45 hours a week on county business and never less than 20 hours a week.

According to the county survey, county commissioners in Leavenworth County, with a population of 73,113, are paid $44,877. In Reno County, population 63,558, commissioners receive $31,868. In Saline County, population 53,919, commissioners are paid $26,561.

Douglas County's population is 111,519.

County Administrator Craig Weinaug said that for whatever reason, county commissioners across the state were generally paid more than city commissioners. He also said that in 1988, county commissioners lowered their salary from $19,188 to $15,000. That salary remained frozen until 2001 when commissioners increased it to $19,177.

That same year, commissioners started taking the same cost-of-living increases that they gave other county employees, Weinaug said. Because of cost of living increases, commissioners' salaries went from $19,749 in 2002 to $21,507 this year.

If the commission's salary had not been lowered in 1988 and instead started taking an average of 3 percent cost of living increases per year, the salary today would be $34,878.

A survey of sheriff's salaries showed that the Shawnee County Sheriff is paid $71,047. It also shows a range for the Saline County sheriff to be from $63,791 to $98,887. Saline County officials told the Journal-World the sheriff makes $78,900. Wyandotte County lists a pay range of $60,778 to $106,470 for its sheriff.

The pay increases for county elected officials became effective Dec. 16 and will show up on the next paychecks, which will be received in January.


TheEleventhStephanie 11 years, 2 months ago

Is being a commissioner a full time job? I was under the impression that it was not.

Godot 11 years, 2 months ago

It is not a full time job. Charles Jones is a full time professor at KU. Does he take a reduction in his professor salary now that he is being paid more than the average full time salary for a classified employee by the county? And what about the health benefits and retirement. This guy is double dipping at the public trough.

Bud Stagg 11 years, 2 months ago

I don't disagree with the amount they are being paid, it's a very ugly job. But to sneak it in without discussion and to do it all in one year seems shady. Did they budget for this? Where does the money come from?

budwhysir 11 years, 2 months ago

My bonus this year was a pat on the back (from myself) and a thought in my mind of job well done. I was able to survive one more year of increased taxes and utility costs not to mention how much health care has gone up.

It doesnt get any better than the way I have it does it. Oh dont feel sorry for me, Im just an ordinary person.

Fins 11 years, 2 months ago

Okay, I'm calling BS. Are you telling me that our Sheriff does more than the Sheriff in Shawnee County? For God's sake, the man has two Undersheriffs when no other sheriff's department in the state does. Sheriff McGovern is a nice man and a local boy but he has no college degree and the department still operates on the "good ol' boy" system. I just don't see how increasing his salary by $16K per year can be validated by the county commissioners.

rhd99 11 years, 2 months ago

To the County Commissioners of Douglas, DON'T give me or my fellow voters ANY BS about how much work you guys do to deserve a pay increase. YOU have not fixed our roads, nor have you addressed the ridiculous cost of housing & rental in Lawrence & throughout the county! Take your pay increases & stuff it!

sweetiepie 11 years, 2 months ago

I'd like to have the option to sit around with my coworkers and vote ourselves a substantial pay raise!

"There is no way you can do it so that it doesn't appear to be self-serving," he said.

Now why would that be?!

heysoos 11 years, 2 months ago


Not the commissioners, the posters on today's board.

You want to attract better candidates to the commission that you love to consistently bitch about? Make it worth their time to enter the race and campaign for the office.

Making their compensation comparable to what other counties pay is perfectly appropriate.

heysoos 11 years, 2 months ago

I posted that before I read cool's post.

Cool, you are excepted.

Godot 11 years, 2 months ago

"You want to attract better candidates to the commission that you love to consistently bitch about? Make it worth their time to enter the race and campaign for the office.

Making their compensation comparable to what other counties pay is perfectly appropriate."

But does increasing the pay of currently sitting commissioners make them better?

Of course not.

Commissioners could have avoided the appearance of being self serving by making this increase effective with the next election, not the one in April, because we have already seen the dismal results of the primary for that one - but the next election after that.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 11 years, 2 months ago

There is no way these people deserve to make that kind of money. Especially in a shady, under the table, slight of hand, sneak it in at Christmas time affront to all taxpayers. When all of us are trying to make ends meet buying Christmas presents for our loved ones, and many going in debt to do so. I hope they enjoy it, b cuz if voters have any kind of decent memory, and the balls to vote all of these people OUT at the next election, it will be the best decision they ever made. This is without a doubt the sleaziest bunch of crap I have ever seen in my life. I have lived 60 years, and seen a lot of crap in my time. If you people just lay down and take this, you deserve what you get. Thank you, Lynn

the_overnighter 10 years, 11 months ago

Just was noticing that the commission canceled tonights meeting. How many have they canceled this year? Seems like about 1?2.

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