It was close but the Sarpy County Board Dec. 15 voted 3-2 to set the salary of the public defender at $139,500.

Board members held the decision over from their Dec. 8 meeting after County Commissioner Don Kelly objected that a proposed salary of $142,000 represented a 10 percent pay increase and would continue what he sees as overpayment of elected officials.

The board voted 3-2 to set the salary at $139,500 with Kelly and Commissioner Jim Warren voting against.

Commissioners Tom Richards, Brenda Carlisle and Jim Thompson voted in favor of the hike.

Richards, who proposed the $139,500 figure, said he factored in the educational requirements of the job, comparables with similar positions in other counties, and the figure being proposed by Kelly, which Richards said was $137,000.

“I don’t think it’s out of line with what a public dfefeder should be paid,” Richards said. “I don’t think it’s out of line compared to Douglas County, I don’t think it’s out of line compared to Lancaster County.”

The higher salary will take effect Jan. 17, 2017 and will therefore apply to whomever is elected public defender in next year’s election.

The current occupant of the office is Tom Strigenz, who has not announced if he intends to seek re-election.

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