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Scotts Bluff County commissioners aprove pay raises
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Scotts Bluff County commissioners aprove pay raises

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After more than an hour of discussion between the Scotts Bluff County commissioners and several employees, the commissioners came to an agreement during a special meeting on Thursday for a series of raises for both elected and appointed county workers.

The commissioners must lay out a resolution with pay updates for county officials every four years. This is mandated by state statute and determines the fee a candidate must pay to campaign for that position.

A report by the Nebraska Association of County Officials (NACO) showed that most of Scotts Bluff County’s officials were severely underpaid compared to counties with similar populations and tax bases.

Each commissioner provided their own ideas as to what the raises should be. The proposal which was ultimately accepted came from Commissioner Mark Harris. Harris said he took local economic conditions and private sector salaries into account to come up with his numbers. He said he wouldn’t intend to go higher than the ones he provided. “I’m not ashamed of these numbers. I think these are numbers that are realistic and doable,” he said. A December petition by some county officials had asked for the salary increases to be a uniform $10,000 for all county officials in 2023, with $5,000 increases the next three years. Harris said he was “frankly ... a little offended” by that proposal.

The raises would take place on a yearly basis from 2023 through 2026. The commissioners themselves would not receive raises, maintaining an annual salary of $24,893. The commissioner chairman, a seat currently occupied by Ken Meyer, would continue to make $27,382 per year. The county surveyor’s salary would also remain static, maintaining a salary of $3,000 each year.

Other employees will receive differing raises based on their position. County attorney David Eubanks will receive a 5.9% raise in 2023, a 4.9% raise next year, and a 3.9% raise in 2025 and 2026. His salary will increase from $105,771.73 per year to $127,320 if he’s still in that position. Public defenders will have their salaries go from $89,521.92 to $107,748, with raises of 6% in 2023, 4.9% the next two years, and 2.9% the next.

The county sheriff, a position held by Mark Overman, will receive a 5.7% raise next year and 3.9% increases the next three years after that. If still the county sheriff, his salary will rise from $94,535.74 to $112,476.

Five separate positions will each have the same pay raise structure over the next few years. These are the county clerk, register of deeds, county treasurer, clerk of the district court, and the county assessor. These positions are currently held by Kelly Sides; Jean Bauer; Heather Hauschild; Darla Simpson; and Angela Dillman, respectively. Their salaries will increase from $66,551 to $78,600, with raises of 5% in 2023, 4% in 2024, then 3.9% the next two years. Four years ago, these five positions receive just a 1.7% raise. Hauschild asked for them to receive cost-of-living adjustments to supplement the low rate increase.

Public defenders got an 8% increase, the county attorney received a 10.62% increase, and the county sheriff received a 22.37% increase in 2018. County commissioners also voted to give themselves a 38% salary increase in 2018, citing that they had previously gone without such large raises.

Simpson told the commissioners she believed each of the officials should receive the same pay raise of 5% per year. “When we hear that certain people should get more than others, and they already got more than others last time ... we’re not asking for their salaries by any means, but I do think that giving us a livable increase will, down the road, help those who are interested in our jobs, who are coming from the private sector.” She said she was just as devoted to her position as people with higher pay increases were. Still, the commissioners voted to give the officials staggered, and in some cases smaller, increases.

christopher.borro@starherald.com

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Christopher Borro is a reporter at the Star-Herald. He can be reached at email at christopher.borro@starherald.com.

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