County considers pay hikes for elected officials

By Doug McMurdo • The Times-Independent

A salary increase could be on the way for Grand County elected officials, including members of the Grand County Council, who currently are the lowest paid legislators in the state.

The council held a pair of public hearings at Tuesday’s meeting. The first regarded pay increases for the county’s elected officials who hold constitutional offices and the second for council members.

The proposed adjustment for the Grand County Council was substantial, with council members’ salaries increasing by nearly $20,000 and the council chair’s salary by nearly $25,000. While the numbers might seem high, Budget Officer Chris Baird said the final figures were arrived at following the commission of a salary study that compared averages between similarly situated Utah counties that, like Grand, have part-time legislators.

If approved, council members will go from about $11,650 to $31,000 and the chairperson will earn about $36,500.

Baird said a small raise was added to elected official salaries Cost of Living Allowances last year, but the salary survey indicated Morgan County roughly tripled the salaries of its governing board last year, which skewed the average for all other county commissions or councils.

Baird, who is also the Grand County Clerk-Auditor-elect, said the analysis was comprehensive and took into account several factors. The final suggested figures were in the middle of the pack.

If ultimately approved, Grand County Attorney-elect Christina Sloan will make about $10,000 a year more than did outgoing Grand County Attorney Andrew Fitzgerald in his term as the salary will increase from about $103,700 to roughly $113,700.

Sheriff Steven White will receive a more than $11,500 increase, from about $77,200 to $88,800. Clerk-Auditor-elect Baird will earn nearly $10,000 more than predecessor Diana Carroll, as the salary will go from about $66,600 to $75,400.

Assessor Debbie Swasey will see a nearly $11,000 increase as her position goes from about $63,650 to roughly $73,200. Treasurer Chris Kaufman will see a similar increase as his salary will go from about $63,000 t $73,350 and Recorder John Alan Cortes’ salary will jump nearly $10,000, as well, from roughly $63,500 to $73,300.

Baird said salaries for elected officials are typically adjusted every five years. Rank and file employees are eligible for pay raises annually or at least every other year. Still, even they are not adequately compensated, said Baird.

“Quite frankly, the county hasn’t kept up with salaries in general. Most of them (non-elected employees) are well below the market average.”