Divided Hall County Board Approves Pay Raises

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email
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A close vote over pay raises for Hall County's elected officials left the Board of Supervisors divided after Tuesday's meeting.

"I agree that we don't need a raise as the county board, but I'm just trying to be practical and get something done here today," said supervisor Steve Schuppan at one point during the meeting.

Wanting to approve some kind of salary increase for Hall County's elected officials starting in 2015 was about all the board agreed on.

"You guys need to talk to your constituents," said Gary Quandt, who was against a cost of living increase during the second year of the term (2016) since officials would already be getting a raise that year.

The discussion was as emotional as it had been two weeks ago when two hours of debate and 10 failed votes ended the meeting. On Tuesday it only took one failed amendment and one failed motion before the board narrowly passed increases that range from $7,000-16,000 with a 4-3 vote.

The Decision

Hall County electeds will be making the Nebraska Association of County Officials' base salary recommendation of $64,000 by 2016, then seeing a 2 percent cost of living raise in 2017 and 2018.

The County Assessor (10%), Attorney (50%), Surveyor (15%), and Sheriff (15%) will all be paid more than base (base plus the number in parentheses).

"Four years from now - when we come back to the same issue again - our people will have a head start over what the base was established in 2015," said board chair Pam Lancaster, who voted yes on the final motion.

But those who voted no say the increase isn't enough, and they say giving themselves a raise was wrong.

"That all translates into heavier workload, larger workforce to manage for our elected officials - therefore I think we should be at the higher end of the pay scale and we're not," said supervisor Scott Arnold.

"Supervisor salary increase at $1,000 per year is actually 4 percent less than what the elected officials will be receiving," explained supervisor Bob McFarland, saying that at the end of the four year term elected officials will make about 22 percent more while supervisors would be making 18 percent more.

But Arnold argued that as supervisors they already make more than the average of the other counties NACO compared them to.

"I'm disappointed. I have yet to know what I'm going to do with that money because I don't feel right taking it," said Arnold.

Lancaster said that the NACO recommendations are just that: recommendations.

"It's not about large county-small county, it's about how people view their salaries and how they can, as well as a board, come to a conclusion," she said.

Hall County will be dropping one elected office in 2015 as the Assessor's office absorbs the Register of Deeds. That's also why the board decided to pay the Assessor 10 percent more than the base salary.

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