Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

County elected official raises OKed

 

November 25, 2014



QCS Managing Editor

Over protests and a single “no” vote, the Quay County Commission Monday approved a resolution authorizing salary increases for the county’s elected officials, contingent on approval of the 2015/2016 budget.

The protests came from Betty Coslett, a Tucumcari resident, and Commissioner Sue Dowell, who cast the “no” vote. Commissioners Mike Cherry and Brad Bryant voted in favor of the raises.

Coslett and Dowell protested the raises at a time when gross receipts tax revenues have declined, the county’s population is decreasing, and news of the ALCO Stores bankruptcy and store closure are still fresh.

Recently, Dowell said, one businessman reported windows broken out of his store. One member of a business-owning couple, she said, has had to take a full-time job to make ends meet.

She also mentioned declining gross receipts tax revenues, which are an indicator of economic activity, and concerns about economic development.

Giving raises to elected officials “shows a lack of sensitivity to the state of the county,” she said.

Coslett said the raises for elected officials might be justified, “but the timing is bad.”

Cherry, who proposed the resolution authorizing the pay increases, said the increases are a matter of fairness.

He pointed out that other county employees had received raises of 3 percent in 2013 and of 40 cents per hour in 2014, while elected officials’ pay has been frozen at levels well below the 85 percent of state average pay authorized a few years ago.

The levels proposed, he said would bring Quay County elected officials “closer to parity,” he said.

If the budget allows, the resolution says, the raises would be about 8.6 percent to these elected officials:

County commissioners: from $14,654 per year to $15,916.25 per year, effective July 1, 2015, for District 3 and Jan. 1,2016, for districts 1 and 2.

Sheriff: from $46,159 per year to $50,123.65 per year, effective July 1, 2015.

Clerk, Auditor and Assessor: from $44,128 per year to $47,928.10 per year, effective July 1, 2105 for the assessor and Jan 1,2016, for the clerk and treasurer.

Probate Judge: from $10,274 per year to $11,159.65 per year, effective July 1, 2015.

The commission on Monday also approved higher starting wages for officers in the Quay County Detention Center.

Beginning pay was raised from $9.13 to $9.50 per hour. When an officer completes training, the pay would rise from $9.31 per hour to $9.98 per hour. When an officer’s probation period ends, pay would rise from $9.60 per hour to $10.50 per hour.

The commissioners approved those raises after hearing a report from T.J. Rich, the jail’s administrator, that too many detention officers were leaving for better-paid jobs outside the county after receiving certification.

 

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