Price tag could be $50,000
There will be expenses for training and getting new letterheads, but the biggest factor is the salaries for the two new officials.
Commissioners currently make $18,000 annually, plus benefits. If pay and benefits packages remain the same for new members, it adds $50,000 to the budget county clerk Tina Spencer said.
“One commissioner is saying, ‘We’ll just cut our salary by that much,’” she said. “That would take a lot. We haven’t put the numbers to it, but I don’t know that it’s going to happen.”
While it’s a potentially pressing topic, there is some time. The matter will likely be resolved next year, along with 2020’s budget, Spencer said.
“That could be done, potentially, leading up to the budget next year,” she said. “The election for these two positions would probably occur next November and they would take office the following January.”
The decision needs to be made prior to the next general election so the new commissioners know beforehand, Spencer said.
“There would be time to budget for that,” she said. “It would need to be before you have candidates on the ballot, because the candidates need to know that information.”
If the commission wants to minimize the difference, one possibility is changing the insurance standard.
For commissioner Kent Becker, the option of insurance is an important benefit.
“The insurance is a benefit that’s been provided for the commission,” he said. “It’s still part of a package, whether it’s salary or benefits. It’s still incentive for people to run, even though that shouldn’t be the first incentive.”
While Becker uses it, neither commissioner Randy Dallke nor chairman Dianne Novak do. The decision not to use it saves the county $6,000 to $7,000 per commissioner each year.
“A commissioner needs to be compensated somehow,” Dallke said. “I do think we can change some things though, I’ll probably propose that commissioners get paid a straight wage and if they want insurance they can pay out of that check themselves.”
Becker anticipates the commissioners will each take a cut, but they have to determine what an appropriate level is.
“I’m not saying we won’t have to take a cut, but there’s still going to have to be an incentive to get people to run for office,” he said. “Based on what other counties are paying for commissioners, even though they might be three, I don’t see that commissioners receive any exorbitant salary.”
Finding a way to give commissioners compensation without hurting residents is key, Dallke said.
“You’ve got to have some good wages and benefits,” he said. “If you think good business people and good people who want to work for the county are going to take it for nothing, I think there’s another thing coming.”
Though it just passed, a five-member commission is not a new proposition, Dallke said.
“When I became a commissioner, my Goessel people mentioned it to me within the first year,” he said. “If you notice the vote, almost the whole west half of the county voted that way.”
Last modified Nov. 14, 2018