When Palo Alto County's Compensation Board met back in late December of 2013, it arrived at a consensus that the county's elected officials should receive salary increases of three percent for the coming fiscal year. On Tuesday, Jan.28, the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors, who are charged by the Code of Iowa with setting those salaries, did what they were supposed to do - they granted salary increases to the elected officials with one very notable exception.
The Supervisors didn't give themselves a salary increse for the coming fiscal year.
In its weekly board meeting Tuesday morning, the supervisors' agenda called for the board to "Consider Compensation Board Recommendations". Under the Iowa Code, the Supervisors can approve the salary recommendation of the Compensation Board, or they may lower it by an equal amount, but they cannot raise it higher than was recommended by the Compensation Board.
The Board had discussed salaries a couple of weeks earlier and tabled the matter, and on Tuesday morning, Supervisor Chair Ed Noonan opened the consideration of salaries by asking his fellow board members for their thoughts or a motion.
"I would move to approve a two percent raise for all the elected officials," offered Supervisor Ron Graettinger. Supervisor Keith Wirtz offered a second, and the discussion began.
"Now, I'd move we supervisors not be in that," Supervisor Linus Solberg said.
"I would go along with a two percent raise," Supervisor Craig Merrill said.
"Now, remember that it has been past practice that whatever is approved for the elected officials is usually what is granted to the other employees as well," Noonan reminded the board.
But Solberg's idea of not including the supervisors in the raise was not forgotten.
"It doesn't matter to me one way or the other," Graettinger said, "but if we wouldn't give the raise, any newly elected supervisors in the future would be further behind and then it would take more to catch them up."
"I would like to consider the idea of a flat dollar amount, rather than the percentage to be more fair," Noonan said.
"We're pretty well locked into the percentage now with the Road Union workers' contract," Wirtz observed. "And, I can go either way on the Supervisors."
With that, Noonan called for a vote on Graettinger's motion of two percent for all elected officials. Supervisors Merrill, Wirtz, Solberg and Noonan cast nay votes, with Graettinger casting the only affirmative vote.
"The motion fails," Noonan said after the vote. "Anyone else?"
Solberg spoke up. "I would move for a two percent raise for the elected officials except for the Supervisors, with no raise for the supervisors."
Merrill offered a second, and after no discussion was offered, Noonan called for a vote. All five supervisors voted in favor of the motion to end the discussion.