Douglas County Commission adopts new minimum and maximum salaries for elected officials

Douglas County leaders have approved minimum and maximum salaries for countywide elected officials for the first time, ending the practice of newly elected officials assuming the salaries of their predecessors.

As part of its meeting Wednesday, the Douglas County Commission voted unanimously to adopt the pay ranges and a pay policy for countywide elected officials, setting pay ranges for five elected officials.

Before the changes, the county personnel policy and pay plan did not address salaries for incoming, newly elected officials, and the county had the practice of just carrying forward salaries, according to a memo to the commission. When new countywide elected officials such as the register of deeds, treasurer, or district attorney were sworn in, their salary was set at whatever their predecessor made, County Administrator Sarah Plinsky said.

Commissioner Patrick Kelly said Wednesday that the county has had elected officials stay in their positions a long time, and that just giving newly elected officials the same salaries as their predecessors has an effect on the county’s budget.

For all the newly adopted pay ranges, the proposed minimum of the pay range is lower than the current salary for the position, but the potential maximum salary significantly exceeds the current salary.

Specifically, the new pay range for the register of deeds, treasurer, and county clerk is a minimum annual salary of $91,187 and a maximum of $134,514, according to the memo. The current salary of the register of deeds is $108,035, and the treasurer and the clerk each make $102,835.

The new pay range for the sheriff is a minimum annual salary of $125,000 and a maximum of $187,500, as compared to the current salary of $154,024, according to the memo. For the district attorney, the new pay range is a minimum annual salary of $150,000 and a maximum of $210,000. Plinsky previously told the Journal-World that although recently elected District Attorney Suzanne Valdez was sworn in with her predecessor’s salary of $170,622, Valdez later voluntarily elected to lower her salary to $164,008.

The changes do not affect any of the officials who were seated after the last election, but they will affect any newly seated officials going forward.

The current practice for raises for countywide elected officials will not change, but it will now be officially incorporated into the pay policy. When market-based increases are approved for county staff positions as part of the budget process, the practice has been to increase elected officials’ pay by the average market increase.

The changes do not affect pay for county commissioners, which is currently $38,300 annually for each commissioner regardless of time on the commission or district.


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