Clark County commissioners reversed course on Wednesday and said they would not accept a pay raise and bigger car allowance.
A day after confirming that the commissioners were scheduled to receive the increases, Commissioner Steve Stuart said Wednesday that after a sleepless night, he knew the increases were not justified given the recession and number of county employees who have had their salaries frozen.
He said he first spoke to Commissioner Marc Boldt on Wednesday morning about not accepting the increases, which were part of salary and compensation schedules adopted in 2008.
“He said, ‘I’m with you. We need to fix it. We need to make it right,’ ” Stuart said.
Stuart said Commissioner Tom Mielke joined the conversation and agreed to turn down the increases.
Commissioners’ annual salaries would have gone up in 2011 from $98,224 to $100,224.
Monthly car allowances would have increased from $500 to $600 for Boldt and Mielke, and from $400 to $600 for Stuart, who is on a different election cycle and did not get an increase the last time car allowances were raised.
On Wednesday, Mielke suggested Stuart’s car allowance be increased to $500 to align with his and Boldt’s compensation. But Stuart said he would not accept any increase; Boldt suggested a decrease in car allowances.
“I’d like to go to $400 like the rest of the electeds,” Boldt said.
Boldt and Mielke agreed to reduce their car allowances to $400, which is the amount all of the other elected officials receive.
The county commissioners adopted the car allowance schedule in 2008 and the salary schedule, which runs through 2014, in 2007. Mielke said he wants the commissioners to monitor the salary schedule on a year-to-year basis and evaluate pay increases depending on how the economy is doing.
State law prohibits commissioners from changing their own salaries mid-term. Stuart said all three commissioners agreed to change their salaries anyway because “it’s the right thing to do.”
The commissioners will write a letter to the governor and state legislature explaining the commissioners’ action and asking for executive support, Stuart said.
The commissioners will approve the ordinance that freezes their salaries and compensation for 2011 during their public meeting next week.
The decision to freeze wages will affect the county auditor, assessor, treasurer and clerk. Those elected officials earn 95 percent of a commissioner’s salary and were scheduled to receive increases.
The decision will also freeze Sheriff Garry Lucas’ salary at $98,224, which is the same as the commissioners’ pay.
Pay for other elected and court-appointed officials, such as judges, court commissioners and the prosecuting attorney, will not be affected. Those salaries are set by the state.
Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or email@example.com.