The Coos County Board of Commissioners (BOC) during this year’s budget message stated that the budget didn’t include any raises for county elected officials. However; during the final day of hearings the BOC performed an about-face and presented their case for a raise to the public budget committee members who make up the County Compensation Committee.
This shouldn’t be a surprise since contained within the Feb. 27, 2018, issue of The World appeared an article concerning county elected officials and supervisors who were making less than the employees they supervise. The crux of that article was the desire for the BOC to have their salaries adjusted to reflect a perceived disparity. Their request was disallowed by the County Compensation Committee on a 2-1 vote; non-elected supervisors are evaluated separately by the BOC.
Officially in the four preceding budget years the Compensation Committee had declined to give any elected official a raise. This was due in part to the fiscal health of county finances, and the need to convey fiscal leadership by the elected officials to its citizens and employees.
What’s perplexing about the BOC petition this year was the argument they used to justify their plan. A retroactive raise of 12% representing 2% a year for the six years that the current BOC has served together. The BOC asserted that they should have been given a 2% raise for the five of the six preceding years that a raise was not forthcoming as well as 2% for this year.
To bolster their claims the next day at the compensation committee meeting the BOC rolled out the Finance Director and a representative from Human Resources to advocate for their proposal; which included a 5% and 10% option. The 5% option represented a $24,000 increase and the 10% $48,000 total for all elected officials. Current BOC salary and benefits totals $104,000 per year. The Compensation Committee on a 2-1 vote authorized a 2% raise for all public officials.
Soliciting this year’s compensation committee to overturn the findings of their predecessors; who acted in good faith exercising their fiduciary responsibility; in order to secure a sympathetic response and subsequent economic advantage is audacious.
Incongruously, last year two of the current sitting BOC members during their reelection campaigns had the opportunity to raise inadequate salaries as an issue; however they didn’t.