Six Douglas County elected positions will get annual raises of 2 percent to 6 percent through the next four-year term.
The County Board sets elected officials' salaries a year before their seats are up for election.
Accordingly, the board has approved higher salaries for the 2015-18 terms of the county attorney, sheriff, treasurer, engineer and clerk of the district court, as well as the County Board members themselves through 2016.
Board members couldn't agree on a starting salary for the newly combined office of the assessor and register of deeds. That vote was held over until next week.
Tuesday, the board also approved one-year raises for the chief deputies in each department, the county's nonunion employees, district court bailiffs, Sheriff's Office captains, the general assistance administrative hearing officer and doctors at the Community Mental Health Center.
The votes were close. Board member Mike Boyle's proposals largely tracked with the salaries requested by each official. He clashed often with Chairwoman Mary Ann Borgeson, who based her proposals — which were typically less generous — on comparisons with elected officials in other Nebraska counties.
Boyle said Borgeson's comparisons were not helpful because Douglas County is an outlier in terms of budget, workload and population served.
“We might as well be asking what shoe size the incumbent wears,” Boyle said. The comparison data “are irrelevant.”
He also said the salary structure should “recognize the skill level” of each official, citing the heavy caseload of County Attorney Don Kleine, for example, who “could literally walk across the street and get triple the salary.”
But Borgeson said her proposals were based on the best data available and were reasonable in light of the county's tight budget.
“We are not setting the salary for the person in the office,” she said. “We're setting the salary for the office in years ahead.”
Here's how the raises will shake out:
» The sheriff gets a 5 percent raise in 2015, then 2 percent raises each year after. That takes a salary of $114,686 next year to $127,791 in 2018.
» The treasurer gets a 2.5 percent raise in 2015, then 3 percent each year after, moving the salary from $111,743 next year to $125,157 in 2018.
» The county attorney gets a 4 percent raise each year, moving from $159,751 next year to $186,886 in 2018.
» The clerk of the district court, whose salary appeared significantly lower on comparison tables than other officeholders, will get a 6 percent raise in 2015, then 5 percent, then 2 percent for two years. That will bring the salary up from $96,148 next year to $111,336 in 2018.
» The county engineer gets a 2 percent raise each year, from $122,317 next year to $132,400 in 2018.
» County Board members, who are coming off a few years of frozen pay, will get 3 percent more each year for two years, bringing them from $36,217 to $38,423 in 2016.