Nodaway County elected officials met during the Salary Commission meeting November 28 and voted on the motion to raise their salaries four percent.
This vote is under advisement from the attorney contracted by the Nodaway County Commissioners. There were questions as to whether the majority of the 10-member quorum present voted in the affirmative. Those who voted in favor of the wage increase, five in number, were Recorder of Deeds Sandy Smail, Collector Treasurer Marilyn Jenkins, Public Administrator Diane Thomsen, Sheriff Randy Strong and Assessor Rex Wallace. Presiding Commissioner Bill Walker and Associate Commissioner Bob Stiens voted “no” along with Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rice. County Clerk Melinda Patton and Commissioner Chris Burns abstained. County Coroner Vincent Shelby was absent from the meeting.
At the beginning of the meeting, Wallace was voted in as the salary commission chairman and the meeting was turned over to his direction. Wallace stated the assessed value of the county has been decreasing and will only continue to decrease. He also stated the cost of living adjustment (COLA) increases have not kept up with inflation prices.
He proposed that the elected officials’ salaries be increased by four percent. There are three ways that elected county officials can increase their salary. One is a COLA raise, by voting themselves a raise during a salary commission meeting or if the assessed valuation of the county increased, due to the salaries being directly related to the assessed value of the county.
Smail stated the COLA increases have barely kept up with the growing costs of health insurance and was in favor to raise the salaries.
Wallace also stated there have been some years that the elected officials had voted to forgo or decrease their own COLA adjustments in order to grant their employees a raise. He stated he felt the officeholders were doing a “diligent job” looking out for their employees and deserved a raise.
Rice was not in favor of the pay increase stating, “I agree that everybody here is doing a fantastic job. I philosophically oppose a pay increase for elected officials. I think when we run, we know what we are going to get. When we get elected, we chose to accept that when we sign on the dotted line.”
Rice’s salary is unaffected by the vote because his salary is directly related to the circuit judges and their salaries.
Walker voiced he would rather see all county employees get the same raise every year through the form of a COLA adjustment.
If the vote is deemed legal by the attorney, it will increase their wages by four percent which will take effect in 2019. Only a newly-elected official can receive the increase. This means that an officeholder will only receive the increase after being re-elected to their position in their respective election year. A newly-elected officeholder coming into office for the first time would also receive the increase.
The last time the elected officials utilized the salary commission to raise their wages was in 2003 and the salary increase took effect in 2005, making it 14 years since their last wage increase, not including any annual COLA increases given to all county employees.