Raising a sticky issue - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Raising a sticky issue

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Posted: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - At least two Kootenai County elected officials could get raises this fiscal year, under a resolution the commissioners will consider at their business meeting today.

Under Idaho code, the commissioners must set the nine elected officials' salaries each year, including their own.

The new fiscal year budget allows raises for all of the more than 700 county employees, including voted-in officials.

Yet under today's proposed resolution, only two of the county's nine officials, the treasurer and assessor, are requesting to receive a 2.47 percent raise.

The other seven officials, commissioners included, are recommending to keep their salaries flat.

"The commissioners, we decided we're not taking a raise this year, because of the economic times," said Commissioner Todd Tondee, who like the other commissioners earns $71,080 a year.

The commissioners had recently requested each elected official submit recommendations for their salary adjustments, using the wage adjustment pool adopted for fiscal year 2013.

Assessor Mike McDowell recommended his salary raise from $68,958 a year to $70,665. Treasurer Tom Malzahn, who has the same salary, requested the same increase.

On Monday, both officials justified their requests with a county study commission several years ago, recommending that electeds' salary adjustments be in step with those of overall county staff.

County elected officials haven't received raises since October 2007, McDowell pointed out.

"This is just a modest change," said McDowell, assessor for just under a decade. "Something that's keeping at least somewhat at pace with what the market has done."

Malzahn said that officials deserve the raises after such a long dry spell, especially since the raises were budgeted.

"It makes no sense to have the electeds held back, when pay should keep up with the marketplace," said Malzahn, also in office just under 10 years.

The 2013 fiscal year budget provided a wage adjustment for all the roughly 769 county employees, which included the county absorbing $363,541 in increased health insurance costs.

The budget allotted $1 million for department heads to give out as one-time bonuses or raises.

Commissioner Dan Green said he would prefer the elected officials ask the voters for a raise, not the commissioners.

"But that's not the way it is in statute," Green said.

He couldn't predict whether the raises would be approved today at the commissioners meeting, scheduled for 2 p.m. in the county administration building, at 451 Government Way.

But Green said the commissioners shouldn't receive a raise because they're public servants.

"Last year I made a motion to reduce our pay by 3 percent, but it did not move forward," Green said.

Commissioner Tondee said he was still "struggling" over whether to approve the requested raises.

"I know everybody works very hard. I don't think it's about deserving or not," Tondee said.

Under the resolution, the other officials' salaries would remain the same:

• Clerk: $68,958

• Sheriff: $84,872

• Prosecuting attorney: $98,664

• Coroner: $61,535

• Three commissioners: $71,080 each

Clerk Cliff Hayes, still serving his first term, said his performance so far hasn't warranted a raise.

"I'm still learning, and I don't think I need or deserve a raise at this time," Hayes said. "It may be different for the assessor and treasurer, because they both have longevity in their positions."

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  • SamuelStanding posted at 10:05 am on Tue, Oct 23, 2012.

    SamuelStanding Posts: 589

    "Assessor Mike McDowell recommended his salary raise from $68,958 a year to $70,665. Treasurer Tom Malzahn, who has the same salary, requested the same increase." Granit, on the scale of things 2.47 % may not be much to some, especially when they have been locked into a pay rate for a decade
    as reported here...But how many of us have had to live in our means? How many are working in a "Public employee" capacity. Mike McDowell lives on the CDA Public Golf course, nice home, kids
    grown and gone -basically his needs are small. Yet the oversight out of his and Tom Malzahn's office
    does not exist. Remember the debacle with the spreadsheet calculations? Do these employees write self assesments and review them with their bosses? What have the brought to THEIR jobs in
    the last 10 yrs to warrant ANY raise? This is something which should be scrutinized. What HAVE then done to better their job for the taxpayers, co-workers, etc.

  • rationaldiscussionplz posted at 8:49 am on Tue, Oct 23, 2012.

    rationaldiscussionplz Posts: 266

    Of course Tondee and Green don't want pay raises right before the election. That would be yet another reason for people to vote for the write-ins. If they added raises on top of their campaign to deprive voters of the right to vote and their property rights grab, their defeat would be guaranteed.

    * Tondee and Green want to deprive people of their votes for county officials.
    * They want to personally appoint a county manager and thus have control over who fills those currently-elected positions.
    * They want to put two layers of insulation between their newly appointed officials and accountability to the voters.
    * And look what happened last time the commissioners got to appoint someone to lord over the people of Kootenai County--we got an out-of-state consultant on an anti-property rights vendetta.
    * But at least we get a chance to vote against the change in county government they're pushing. What we don't get to vote against is their property rights grab through the unified land use code.

    Tondee and Green have a proven history of failing to listen to the taxpayers and voters of Kootenai County. Part of their reasoning behind wanting to appoint a county czar is that they're bored of sitting in meetings listening to people talk about property rights and zoning. They don't want property owners to get a fair hearing in front of the board of commissioners anymore, but instead have property owners approach the appointed czar and his or her staff instead. They want to insulate county officials and decisions from the voters as much as possible.

    Todd Tondee has two write-in challengers. Tim Herzog and Jack Schroeder.
    Dan Green has one write-in challenger. Gordon Ormesher, Jr.

    I encourage anyone who values their voting rights and property rights to vote for a write-in candidate, rather than the current county commissioners.

  • JoeIdaho posted at 8:36 am on Tue, Oct 23, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    Now, the entire world in Kootenai County KNOWS that property valuesd have plummeted, and at the same time assessments have gone down, while actula TAXES have risen, significantly.
    And now, they need a raise....

    They all need to be kicked out.

  • mister d posted at 7:27 am on Tue, Oct 23, 2012.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    I think $68,000 is enough money to live on.I haven't had a raise since 2008 and don't make near as much as they do, but there is something to be said about job satisfaction. I work longer and harder that ever, but i also like what I do. No raises.

  • voxpop posted at 6:00 am on Tue, Oct 23, 2012.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    I know it's impolitic to suggest but if ANY county elected officials deserve any sort of merit raise it would be the treasurer and assessor. From my perspective those two are the only "electeds" (??) who do a better than average job. I also find it revealing that Green would rather the electorate dole out raises but is right there in the forefront wanting a new mega-buck palace to lounge around in as his highness the Commish.

  • Tim Herzog posted at 5:54 am on Tue, Oct 23, 2012.

    Tim Herzog Posts: 396

    Of course our two County Commissioners don't want a raise....just a few weeks before the election!

    Don't want to lose any votes to them Write-Ins!

    Tim Herzog
    Write-In Candidate, District 1, County Commissioner
    "It's time for a positive difference"

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