• Last modified 52 days ago (May 29, 2024)


Attorney gets 26%
pay raise

Could swell to more than 31%

Staff writer

After complaining to commissioners three weeks ago that he was underpaid at $75,000 a year, county attorney Joel Ensey received a raise Tuesday.

Commissioners weren’t certain whether Ensey would now file for re-election — which he had not done as of Tuesday.

Three weeks ago, Ensey stumped for $118,000 a year. Commissioners wanted more information before making a decision.

Tuesday’s decision, made on a 4-1 vote with commissioner Kent Becker opposed, was to set starting pay for the county attorney at $94,500. The raise will go into effect Jan. 1.

The county’s pay plan adds a $50 longevity raise for each year the person has been there, starting at five years.

Commissioners still must decide whether to leave Ensey at the same step of the county pay plan, county administrator Tina Spencer said .

Ensey, county attorney since January of 2019, could be paid anywhere between $94,750 and $98,568 a year.

Ensey’s not filing for re-election entered commissioners’ discussion several times as they talked about his salary.

“As you know, there is an attorney shortage right now,” Spencer said as she began the discussion.

County counselor Brad Jantz, at the meeting to talk about matters of attorney / client privilege, left the room after Spencer said that.

“You’ve got smaller counties paying more than big counties,” Becker said. “There’s no way to compare.”

Looking toward a possibility that nobody would file, Becker noted that there was no stipulation that a prosecutor must live in the county.

Commission chairman Dave Mueller kept coming back to comparing counties by caseload instead of population.

Commissioner Randy Dallke noted that the county already had two department heads “that are pretty high salary.”

Spencer said commissioners had known for some time that the county’s salaries were “too low.”

She suggested a salary of $90,000.

“Whether that would make him file for election, I don’t know,” she said.

Gehring said the county should pay for the position, not the person, and moved to set a base pay of $94,500.

Last modified May 29, 2024