The Sarpy County Board is contemplating giving two of the county's top managers raises of 11.2 percent and 10.2 percent over new, three-year contracts.
The first year calls for raises of 8.1 percent and 7.2 percent.
At the end of the proposed contracts, the county's longtime administrator would make at least $135,061 and its fiscal administrator at least $116,532.
County Administrator Mark Wayne, whose current salary is $121,409, would get a $9,867 raise by July 1 and a total of $13,652 in raises over the three years.
Fiscal administrator Brian Hanson, who earns $105,778, would get an additional $7,635 by July and an additional $3,143 by July 2013.
Wayne and Hanson, who both also receive free family health insurance, have worked under expired three-year contracts since last summer.
The board will consider three-year contracts Tuesday. The contracts include retroactive pay raises to July 1, 2011.
The new contracts would require that Wayne and Hanson begin contributing to their health insurance starting in February, as do most county employees.
Wayne said the new contract is fair. The proposed raises are in line with comparable positions used in Sarpy County's salary survey, he said.
Wayne said part of the proposed salary increase will go toward his health insurance premium. Wayne and Hanson have received free family coverage for more than 20 years.
In December, the County Board approved continued free single or family health coverage for itself and other elected officials, with the understanding that the perk could end in January 2015. However, all new managers and department heads must begin to contribute toward their health insurance premiums.
Board member Jim Warren of Gretna said that the proposed pay increases aren't justified and that he will vote against both.
Warren, a former three-term mayor of Gretna, said the county can't afford the proposed raises.
"There is no way I can go along with those numbers," he said.
Warren cited stagnant property tax revenue and the possible elimination of the inheritance tax by the Nebraska Legislature. Last year, state aid to local governments was eliminated.
Wayne and Hanson are already well-compensated compared with their peers, Warren said.
"With the current state of the economy and the tax situation, how do we justify paying the $100,000 salaries? We need to take a real close look at what we're paying with the taxpayer's money.
"I cannot support that kind of an increase. I don't know anyone getting increases like that comparable to that in the public or private sector."
Board member Rusty Hike of Bellevue, chairman of the five-member board, said the proposed contracts present a tough decision for the board, given the current economic conditions.
Hike is undecided on the contracts but said the county needs to ensure that Wayne and Hanson are being paid "in the ballpark with their peers."
He cited the salary of Douglas County administrator Kathleen Kelley as an example. Kelley, who contributes to her health insurance premium, got a pay increase earlier this month of about $1,450, bringing her total salary to about $147,500.
"I can argue probably that they (Wayne and Hanson) are paid a lot," Hike said, "and I could argue that they are making a lot less (than some comparable positions)."
If too many questions arise, the board may delay a vote, Hike said. "It's more important to get it right than get it done quickly."
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