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Elected officials make pitch for a pay increase

May 12, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Commissioners have final say

Salaries for Fremont County's elected officials are up for review this year, the outcome is uncertain. Commissioners balked initially at raises proposed by the other elected officials.

Fremont County Commissioner control the budget and set wages for themselves and other elected officials, including the coroner, sheriff, county attorney, clerk, clerk of district court, treasurer and assessor.

Every four years, the county board sets those salaries for the next four years.

At the May 6 Commission meeting, all officials other than commissioners proposed a 3 percent raise for their officials every year for the four years.

A higher raise was proposed for the coroner's office to bring it in line with most of the other elected officials.

Currently, the coroner makes $64,000, the county attorney earns $85,300, commissioners earn $34,000, and the others earn $75,000.

"What the current recommendation is to increase the full-time elected officials to $84,500 and the attorney to $94,500," Fremont County Clerk Julie Freese said.

The proposal does not include commissioners, Freese said, because the other officials wanted to leave those salaries up to the county board.

Compounded, the raises amount to about 12.6 percent over three years.

"When we do elected officials, we're looking at a 12 percent raise over four years, and I'm concerned when we don't give a similar raise to other employees," commission vice-chairwoman Keja Whiteman said.

In last year's budget cycle, commissioners approved a $750 raise for most county employees. The year before, the county board held nearly all salaries flat.

Commission chairman Doug Thompson questioned whether the raises would lead to more costs, wondering if elected officials might want their chief deputies' salaries to increase in line with their own.

The commission was open to the proposal, however, and is to make a decision at a later meeting.

"I think it's very well backed, and I'm considering this seriously," Thompson said.

In a letter, Fremont County Treasurer Scott Harnsberger said elected officials' salaries are behind similar, private-sector jobs that can earn $83,000 to $146,000 per year on average.

"These numbers make our proposal for full-time elected officials very reasonable," he stated.

A chart of Wyoming county salaries provided by the elected officials showed Fremont County's current salaries are in line with other counties across the state.

Elected officials aside commissioners make the same in Fremont County currently as they do in the two counties nearest in population.

Some larger counties pay more, and smaller ones pay somewhat less. Counties with double the population pay about the same, however, indicating salaries do not always follow population directly.

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Fremont County Commission