Salaries for the Jackson County Board of Commissioners will top $100,000 thanks to recently approved raises, although Colleen Roberts is sticking to her campaign pledge to accept $68,432.
Following a recommendation from the Jackson County Elected Officials Salary Committee, official salaries for Roberts and Rick Dyer will jump from $94,952 in the current fiscal year to an annualized rate of $96,555 this summer. Their salaries will increase to $100,318 in January 2017.
Commissioner Doug Breidenthal, who has been in office longer and is seeking re-election this year, will see his salary go up from $99,674 to an annualized rate of $100,318 this summer.
If he wins re-election and continues serving in January 2017, his salary will rise to $105,331.
Salaries reset to lower levels for new commissioners taking office.
Roberts objected to a big pay increase for officials in 2008 and campaigned on a promise to take less money.
Commissioner pay jumped from $68,432 to $86,341 in 2008 after a salary committee found a large disparity between what commissioners earned compared to Jackson County department heads and other top managers.
Commissioners in office at the time fielded criticism for the 2008 increase, especially because the nation was caught in a sharp economic downturn.
Roberts said this week she is sticking to her campaign pledge to take less money.
"It's not out of any disrespect for the salary committee or the job," she said. "It's my pleasure and honor to do the job."
Craig Morris, a citizen member of the Jackson County Citizens Budget Committee, said he thinks the county uses a fair process to determine salary increases.
The salary committee makes a recommendation on raises, which must then be approved by the Budget Committee — which is made up of three citizens and the three commissioners.
"It's a transparent and predictable process," Morris said.
The public, elected officials and people campaigning for office know what salaries generally will be, he said.
With the latest round of raises, elected officials will get a 0.64 percent cost-of-living increase this summer, then will go up a step to the next pay grade in their position in January 2017.
County Administrator Danny Jordan said the county's policy is an attempt to make salary increases apolitical.
He noted Jackson County commissioners make more than the median pay for commissioners in other comparable counties.
"In other counties, commissioners won't give themselves raises or authorize other raises because they're afraid of the political repercussions," Jordan said.
He noted the county's policy to drop pay down to lower levels for newly elected officials saves money.
"When they come in, they go back to the beginning," Jordan said.
With the newly approved raises, the salary for Jackson County Sheriff Corey Falls will go from $116,605 to a rate of $117,354 in the summer, then $123,340 in January 2017.
The assessor's salary will rise from $90,418 to $91,000 and stay at that amount in January 2017. Following former Assessor Josh Gibson's resignation, the post is empty and several new candidates are vying for the job.
County Clerk Chris Walker's salary of $92,622 will rise to $93,205 and stay at that amount. She is at the top of her pay grade after taking office in 2008 and being re-elected twice.
Justice of the Peace Joe Charter's salary of $80,766 will go to $81,286 this summer and stay there in January 2017. He was first elected in 2004.
Jackson County Surveyor Scott Fein will get a raise from $83,990 to $84,531 in the summer, then bump up to $88,774 next year.