BLOG #3 — 2018 COUNTY BUDGET SERIES: Top Paying Salaries, Part 1

One of the first questions Citizen Report readers ask when talking about the county’s budget is “what do staff and commissioners earn?”

To help answer that question, we obtained annual salaries from the county’s accounting department and developed a spreadsheet of selected top paying salaries for Delta County over the past 10 years (See spreadsheet: County Salaries). Our analysis and highlights are summarized below:

1) Two County Commissioners saw a 20% increase in 2017. Why only two of the three? The answer: Commissioner pay is set by the state according to population, the county’s Category III designation and election year. All elected officials fall under the same constraints. This would include the County Treasurer, Assessor, Coroner, Clerk & Recorder, and Sheriff.

Commissioner Roeber was reelected in 2017 and Commissioner Suppes was newly elected in 2017 making both eligible for the pay raise — from $58,500 to $70,200. NOTE: The Commissioners voted to raise their salaries despite a 2017 pay freeze for other county employees. (Citizen Report acknowledges that Commissioners hadn’t seen a raise in eight years.)

Read more about how elected officials pay works.

See the state’s 2014 report from its committee on government pay.

2) In a year where most saw a 0% raise, County Administrator Robbie LeValley received a 9% increase in 2017 — from $95,990 to $105,000. LeValley began as County Administrator in late 2012 replacing 32-year veteran, Susan Hansen. Over her five-year term of employment, LeValley has realized a 15% overall pay increase. How does the Administrator’s salary compare to neighboring county managers/administrators? Stay tuned for Part 2 in our continuing series covering the county budget.

3) In mid-2017, the County created a new position in the planning department ‑- Community & Economic Development Director — and hired former DOLA staffer, Elyse Casselberry at a starting salary of $90,000. Citizen Report is currently investigating how this new position differs from that of a County Planner given the position’s high salary.

4) The County has employed a planning contractor since 2015 having been without a Planner for the past two years. Their contractor raked in $83,490 in 2016, while working part-time. Point of comparison: The last Planner made $41,531.

This expenditure has been particularly troubling for Citizen Report and in early 2017, we spoke to County Commissioners about the large expenditure and the lack of a Planner. While Commissioner made no commitment during the discussion, Elyse Casselberry was hired shortly afterward. The planning consultant has, however, remained on board and is on track to make $100,000 in 2017.

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