Green River Star -

By Hannah Romero
Staff Writer 

Raises set for officials' salaries

 


After a month of discussions on the topic, the Sweetwater County Board of County Commissioners approved raises to the salaries of the county’s elected officials Tuesday.

The commissioners voted unanimously to raise the county attorney and sheriff’s salaries to $145,000 a year — the maximum amount allowed through House Bill 91 after it passed the Wyoming legislature earlier this year.

The commissioners and other elected officials, including Sweetwater County Assessor Dave Divis who has spoken on behalf of the other elected officials during the recent discussions, all expressed their support for the attorney and sheriff making the maximum amount.

The commissioners also voted to keep their own salaries the same, with only Commissioner Randy Wendling voting against.

Determining whether or not to also raise the salaries of other elected officials, and how much to raise them by, caused more division among the commissioners.

Ultimately the commissioners voted to raise the county coroner’s salary to $85,000 a year and to raise the salaries of the county assessor, county treasurer, county clerk and clerk of courts to $125,000 a year.

This decision came after discussion and dissension among the commissioners over the salary amounts.

Commissioner Roy Lloyd presented several options based on research he did into what other Wyoming counties are doing and what they’re paying their elected officials, as well as taking into consideration the percentage of how much Sweetwater County department heads have had their salaries increased because of cost of living adjustments. These ranged from keeping the salaries where they currently are to going up to $135,000 a year — the amount originally requested by the elected officials during the April 5 commissioners’ meeting.

Commissioner Wendling expressed his desire to raise the salaries to $130,000 a year, which he believed was in in-between amount. He also wanted to raise the county coroner’s salary to be the same as the other elected officials’ since the coroner is on call at all times and “everybody counts or nobody counts.”

Commissioner Lauren Schoenfeld said the number that sat well with her was $115,000 a year. She also pointed out the coroner is technically a part time position.

Commissioner Mary Thoman said she wanted a way for people to be paid according to the duties they have, but said she would be willing to go as high as $115,000.

Commissioner Lloyd preferred being in the range of $120,000 - $125,000, while Chairman Jeff Smith said he wanted to stay closer to the $135,000 the officials requested but could go down to $130,000. The commissioners made multiple motions with various levels of salary changes which failed either because they didn’t have a second or because they were voted down in a roll call vote.

Other times Wendling attempted to amended motions that had been made to raise the proposed salary amount, but the amendments died without a second. The commissioners also took a break and took care of another agenda item before going back to the discussion in order to give everyone time to think more.

Eventually the motion to raise the coroner’s salary to $85,000 a year passed 3-2 with Wendling and Smith voting no. The motion to raise the elected officials’ salaries to $125,000 a year also passed 3-2 with Wendling and Smith again voting no.

 

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