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County Council, June 11

Most elected officials to receive “market" level remuneration
But Treasurer to receive much more
Warwick Jones

The Finance Committee wrestled hard yesterday over pay increases for elected officials. No member of the Committee had issues over the need for an increase. But how large should they be, and to what extent should they be adjusted in future for Cost of Living increases (COLA) and merit pay? After the making and dismissal of a number of motions, the Committee voted to increase remuneration to the “market" level determined by the County’s Committee for Auditing, Performance and Evaluation Standards (CAPES). There would be no COLA or merit increases unless such increases were also voted by Council for staff. There would not be longevity allowances. At the insistence of Chairman Summey, the remuneration of the County Treasurer was to rise to $124,000 from the $111,022 “market” level determined by CAPES.

All but Council members bar Qualey voted for the increase. Council members Rawl and Darby were absent. We suspect that Council member Qualey’s objection was upping the remuneration of the Treasurer beyond the “market" level determined by CAPES.

We confess to surprise at the increase in the remuneration of the Treasurer proposed by the Committee chair. We are also surprised at the seeming acquiescence of most of the Finance Committee. If the Council wanted to ensure it was paying “market" rates for its officials, why did it accept the opinion of the Chair that the Treasurer should be paid more than the market? Chairman Summey argued that the remuneration of the Treasurer should be at least that of the Clerk of Court as both had significant responsibilities.

Perhaps a reason for the lack of debate over the generous treatment of the Treasurer was sorting through and understanding the detail in the CAPES recommendations. CAPES did as it was tasked. It determined the market remuneration of the elected officials by looking at rates of 10 other counties in the south. But it went further. It added a 3% equity increase and made another adjustment to make remunerations more in line with pay structures of County staff. Its final recommendation reflected a 60% weighting of the remuneration determined by comparison with County staff, and 40% weighting for the market determination. Press Download file to see CAPES recommendations. The figures in red are those recommended by the Finance Committee for all bar the Treasurer.

Committee members were not generally happy with the adjustments that CAPES made beyond the determination of “market" rates and voted accordingly. But much of the discussion over the issue related to the inclusion of COLA, longevity and merit increases. Ultimately, it ditched them all though agreed to a COLA and merit adjustments. However these adjustments would only occur if Council voted them for staff. The COLA rate would be the same as that for staff, and one half of that voted for merit.

The new remuneration levels would begin in July, the start of the 2016 fiscal year.

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