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Pay raises approved for elected officials

Crow Wing County commissioners agreed to continue without a pay raise but voted Tuesday, Dec. 31, to give a 1 percent raise to other elected officials.

Wages for commissioners haven’t changed since 2008.

Commissioners set compensation and benefits for elected and non-contract staff, such as appointed department heads.

Tami Laska, human resources director, said the county focuses on improved performance with customer feedback, awards and recognition, looks at public and private wages to gauge competitive pay plans and benefits, and has improved efficiency. Laska said in 2008 the county had 500 employees but now has 420.

Based on the pay matrix, Laska said the 2014 salary ranges amount to a 1 percent wage growth in its budgetary impact. The county has negotiated 2.5 percent increases with labor unions but part of the savings in wage growth comes from hiring at a lower wage rate than the county did previously.

Laska pointed to a recent Minneapolis Star Tribune article noting 40 percent of the 7,300 Hennepin County workers will receive a 15 percent pay increase during the next two years.

The board approved the 2014 salary ranges and benefit plan, the performance based pay matrix and set 2014 wages for elected officials.

Looking at market comparisons, Laska presented an option for a 2.5 percent increase for the county attorney, recorder and sheriff and a 3 percent increase for the auditor-treasurer and board members.

The increase would have brought commissioners from $28,051 to $28,893, which Laska said was still below $31,492 found from surveys of similar counties.

Laska said the county moved away from cost of living and step increases based on longevity as unsustainable and is moving to a performance based system. Laska said the county was paying mid-range for salaries and was not leading or lagging the market.

The county works with 14 bargaining units. Performance reviews aren’t used for elected officials as they are for other employees.

Commissioner Paul Thiede moved to approve a 1 percent increase for other elected officials but keep the board salary unchanged. The motion passed unanimously.

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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