Apr. 19—Jackson County elected officials will get 2% cost-of-living raises starting in July, plus another raise in January 2022 for gaining experience on the job.
Some elected officials who have been in their jobs for years won't get the raises for gaining experience because they're already on the top rung of their salary ladders. But they will get the cost-of-living raise.
The Jackson County Budget Committee approved the raises this month, with Jackson County Commissioner Colleen Roberts voting alone against the cost-of-living raises.
The Budget Committee is made up of the county's three elected commissioners plus three residents.
Roberts said she didn't take last summer's cost-of-living raise and she won't take this summer's increase either because of ongoing impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Roberts said county commissioners hear every week from businesses that are suffering and failing, as well as from families that are struggling to balance work with caring for their children. She said some parents have had to quit their jobs to educate their children.
Most schools are still on a hybrid in-person and online schedule that doesn't match up with the work schedules of parents.
"I represent and relate to those businesses and those families that are very much adversely affected," Roberts said.
Roberts and County Commissioner Rick Dyer have both been reelected and are at the top of their salary ladders. They aren't eligible for raises based on experience.
Their current authorized salary is $128,627 annually. Roberts is receiving less than that because of her refusal last year to take the cost-of-living raise.
With this summer's cost-of-living raise, their authorized salary will grow to $131,186 annually.
Dyer said he plans to take the cost-of-living raise and use a portion of his salary to support charitable causes in the community.
Jackson County Commissioner Dave Dotterrer, who took office in January, said he will take the cost-of-living raise plus the raise he's eligible for in January 2022.
Dotterrer said he doesn't view the cost-of-living adjustment as a raise, but as a way to keep up with inflation. He said he will follow the county's pay schedule that provides raises based on experience.
Dotterrer's current pay is $100,797 annually. His pay will rise to $107,952 once the cost-of-living and experience raises go into effect.
Craig Morris, a citizen member of the Budget Committee, said the county's salary schedule was developed years ago to provide predictable, consistent, bias-free and fair salary increases for elected officials as they gain experience.
Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler's annual salary of $143,312 will increase to $153,504 after he receives cost-of-living and experience raises.
Jackson County Assessor Dave Arrasmith's salary will go from $116,646 to $124,966 once he receives both raises.
Budget Committee members voiced concerns that Arrasmith doesn't have a plan for dealing with the massive workload facing his office as people rebuild from last year's Almeda and South Obenchain fires.
Thousands of properties will have to be reassessed and correctly entered into the property tax rolls. Jackson County is in charge of assessing and collecting property taxes that help support dozens of jurisdictions ― including the cities of Talent and Phoenix, fire districts and the Phoenix-Talent School District.
Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker's $103,210 salary will increase to $105,269 with the cost-of-living raise. A longtime veteran of the job, she is no longer eligible for raises based on experience.
Jackson County District Attorney Beth Heckert's stipend from the county will grow from $30,139 to $30,722 with the cost-of-living raise. She is no longer eligible for raises based on experience.
The stipend makes up a portion of her salary, with the state paying the rest.
The salary for Justice of the Peace Damian Idiart will grow from $90,043 to $91,832 with both raises.
Jackson County Surveyor Scott Fein, another experienced elected official, will see his salary grow from $103,210 to $105,269 with the cost-of-living raise.
The raises for elected officials are similar to raises going to Jackson County employees, who receive cost-of-living raises and raises based on experience.
Jackson County managers who aren't represented by unions are getting a 2% cost-of-living raise this summer. The county is budgeting 1.6% to 2.2% cost-of-living raises for workers whose union contracts will be negotiated this coming fiscal year, according to the 2021-2022 budget.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.