Mielke, Boldt agree to freeze their salaries

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

Published:

 
photoTom Mielke
photoMarc Boldt

Clark County Commissioners Marc Boldt and Tom Mielke, both of whom are up for re-election, voted Tuesday to freeze salaries for their positions for the next four years.

The third commissioner, Steve Stuart, was absent Tuesday. The vote does not affect his salary, because he’s on a different election cycle and state law prohibits commissioners from changing their salaries after an election or midterm.

Stuart, who represents District 3, will see his salary increase from $102,224 to $104,224 in 2013 and $106,224 in 2014. The salaries for District 1 and District 2 commissioners will remain at $102,224 through 2016.

Stuart, a Vancouver Democrat, will be up for re-election in 2014.

In District 1, Mielke, a Battle Ground Republican, faces challenger Joe Tanner, a Ridgefield Democrat, in the Nov. 6 general election.

In District 2, Boldt, a Hockinson Republican, faces challenger David Madore, a Vancouver Republican.

When commissioners discussed their salaries last week, Mielke proposed freezing the salaries for Positions 1 and 2 for two years and then increasing the wages for the second half of the term. Boldt advocated for the full four-year freeze, and Mielke came around.

“We recognize financial times are very tough,” Mielke said Tuesday. He said the salary freeze also sets a good example for the county’s collective bargaining units.

The salary schedules were adopted in 2007; in 2008 the commissioners delayed the effective date of the salaries for one year. In 2011, the commissioners donated their scheduled $2,000 increases to the county general fund. This year, commissioners donated their scheduled $2,000 increases to a local nonprofit organization.

The commissioners’ salaries affect the salaries of the county sheriff, auditor, assessor, treasurer and clerk. The sheriff earns the same annual salary as a commissioner, while the other officials earn 95 percent of the salary.

According to code, however, the salaries are calculated according to the highest commissioner salary. So based on Stuart’s 2013 salary, Sheriff Garry Lucas will earn the same ($104,224) in 2013 while at 95 percent Auditor Greg Kimsey, Assessor Peter Van Nortwick, Treasurer Doug Lasher and Clerk Scott Weber will earn $99,013.

Also Tuesday, Mielke agreed, after prompting by Boldt, to delay increasing the commissioners’ monthly vehicle allowance. Positions 1 and 2 were scheduled to increase, along with Position 3, from $600 to $700 in 2013. Instead, Positions 1 and 2 will remain at $600 until 2015, when the monthly allowance will increase to $700. Stuart’s monthly vehicle allowance will increase next year to $700.

Unlike part-time city councilors, county commissioners are expected to work full time. Their salary has been an issue in the campaign, as Madore, owner of U.S. Digital, has pledged that if elected he would save the county money by cutting his salary by 20 percent.

The state constitution would prohibit him from doing that, said Bronson Potter, the county’s chief civil deputy prosecuting attorney.

Madore could, however, donate any or all of his salary back to the county general fund.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com.