October 6, 2010
Harris Hall Main Floor
Vice Chair Scott Bartlett presided
with Budget Committee Members: Bill Fleenor, Rob Handy, Denis Hijmans Cindy
Land, Pete Sorenson, Faye Stewart and Rose Wilde. Ashley Miller and Bill Dwyer
were excused. County Administrator
Jeff Spartz, County Counsel Liane Richardson and Recording Secretary Melissa
Zimmer were also present.
1. DISCUSSION/Elected Officials Compensation Board Recommendations.
Madilyn Zike, Human Resources, explained that the Elected Officials Compensation Board meets in odd numbered years before the election. She recalled that the last time this Board met was in 2008. She said they use statutory comps for developing compensation recommendations and for the purpose of their recommendations; they use Clackamas, Jackson, Marion, Multnomah and Washington Counties for the comparison. She added they also factor in the compensation of Lane County. She said they are just looking at commissioner salaries. She noted that they do not look at the condition of the County’s budget and it is not a factor in their decision. She indicated they are just looking at market comparisons and compensation. She added that they don’t look at the political factors of any decision that might be made. She stated that their decision is based on market analysis from a compensation framework.
Zike reported that they have had two meetings this year. She indicated they started this process later this year due to the vacancy in her position. She said they went over the information in the attachment. (Copy in file). She said they looked at the total compensation, focusing on the deferred compensation reimbursement the County commissioners receive, the salary and they evaluate any other benefits. She said there are so many variables and different compensation packages the commissioners receive in the different areas so they focused on core compensation pieces. She recalled that this was the same practice Lane County had used for many years. She stated that some of the feedback she has received on this process from the elected officials and the public is that they would like to see this be more of a public process. She indicated that they want to see more notification about the meetings and more information about what is going to be discussed.
Zike said the recommendations for the salary for the Board come to this group, and the recommendations for the other elected officials go directly to the Board. She indicated the minutes are attached. (Copy in file). She recalled the last time the Elected Officials Compensation Board met they recommended a 10.8 percent increase for the commissioners’ salaries. She added at that time the recommendation was not accepted. She commented that from a compensation standpoint that disparity would grow larger. She stated now the disparity is 15.8 percent below market of their comparables. She said that is the risk to not move forward. She said the salaries of elected officials don’t usually get cut. She thought the Board might be more out of market the next time they meet. She noted the primary recommendation is to move the commissioners’ salary up the full 15.8 percent to bring them within market. She added that an alternative recommendation is to do a smaller increase to the level of the lowest comparable and that is Marion County.
Fleenor commented the counties for comparison were not stressed counties. He asked why they aren’t looking at counties that are equally financially distressed.
Zike said they didn’t look at the financial situation as a comparable. She added by statute there are certain comparable counties and it based on size of the county and the size of the population. She stated these were their comparable counties. She said when they work with the bargaining units, these are the groups the arbitrators and some of the labor unions use so there is consistency.
Zike reported that there were some uncertainties around the District Attorney’s salary. She said their recommendation for the District Attorney is that his salary remain the same. With regard to the Sheriff, she noted that in ORS there is a reference that the Sheriff’s base salary needs to be at least one dollar more than his highest paid employee. She said in this case, the Under Sheriff is making more than the Sheriff. She indicated the recommendation was for the Sheriff to receive $1,000 more per year. She said for the Assessor, it was a 1.24 percent increase. She added for the Judges at the Justice Court it was a 6.5 percent increase.
Land asked as a Budget Committee if they can factor in the perfect storm, expecting budget deficits in the future.
Richardson said it is now up to the Budget Committee and they can factor this information in.
Fleenor asked if they could adjust this based on the financial condition of the County. He commented that otherwise this would get out of control and he was concerned about that.
Sorenson asked if the Elected Compensation Board is part of the charter.
Richardson responded that a portion in the charter says the Board of Commissioners has to adopt the recommendations prior to the election. She said Oregon State Statute requires counties to have an Elected Compensation Board and it tells them what they make up of the boards are.
Sorenson thought the Board should consider all the salaries or none of them. He viewed this as more of an administrative decision than a policy decision. He asked who sets the salary of the Under Sheriff
Zike said the Board is responsible for establishing a personnel and compensation plan. She added that the Compensation Plan that has been supported by the Board is the Fox Lawson salary methodology. She noted the Under Sheriff’s position is one of the positions within that group. She said his salary was set the same as any management employee within the County. She explained that the Sheriff’s salary has been set by the County at a lower rate than the Under Sheriff who is under their compensation plan.
MOTION: to approve the recommendation of the Lane County Elected Officials Compensation Board in the matter of adjusting the salaries and benefits of Lane County’s Commissioners for Option 1.
Hijmans MOVED, MOTION DIES FOR LACK OF A SECOND.
MOTION: to move that they recommend no raises to any elected official as a Budget Committee
Wilde MOVED, Land SECONDED.
Richardson reiterated that there will be a violation of state statute for the Sheriff’s salary if they don’t increase the position by $1,000. She recalled that she gave the same warning two years ago and nothing has happened. She said they will continue to be in violation.
Sorenson asked if they should have the County Administrator bring back to the Budget Committee options of how to comply with the requirement that the Under Sheriff makes less than the Sheriff. He thought it would be an improvement over not making the decision to raise elected officials’ pay. He said he wouldn’t vote for a motion to raise elected officials’ compensation today, but he didn’t want the advice of two years ago and today to go without some acknowledgement. He thought having some options on how to comply with the statute would be appropriate.
Wilde stated as the maker of the motion, she would like to indicate that the County Commissioners appear to be the lowest full time elected officials of Lane County. She said her motion in no way implies that the commissioners are doing more work and should be compensated for but because of the circumstances, she thought it would be inappropriate to give raises to elected officials at this time when they are talking about cuts that would impact employees.
Sorenson wanted an amendment saying the Budget Committee and the Board would like to have a report back from the County Administrator with advice from Legal Counsel on how to have options to comply with the statute that deals with pay of Sheriffs and give the Board and the Budget Committee options on how to comply with that.
Wilde accepted the friendly amendment, as long as it didn’t impede their moving forward on this motion.
Land seconded the amendment.
VOTE: 6-2 (Bartlett and Hijmans, dissenting).
Sorenson asked what the Budget Committee thought about going into the private sector and taking this issue outside of the budget process.
Fleenor recalled in 2009 they looked at having a charter amendment to the Lane County Charter that would establish a more objective process by which the county commissioners would be compensated though a process that would be in the charter and would eliminate any commissioners from having to vote on their own salaries. He said that didn’t’ make it to the ballot, but he hoped in the future the Board might re-examine the possibility. He commented that it was uncomfortable to have to vote for his own salary increase.
Bartlett thought the meeting was uncomfortable. He said the County always has a structural deficit. He didn’t think it was unique this year. He didn’t think it was fair to put this on the Board of Commissioners even though Oregon Statute requires that they get into the political hot seat. He thought if there was a universal metric to apply as to the cost of living, responsibility and complexity of the job, it would be easier to resolve.
There being no one else signed up to speak, Vice Chair Bartlett adjourned the meeting at 12:50 p.m.