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Commissioners debate wages for road boss

Should county road superintendent be paid the same as elected officials?

 

September 1, 2022



How much should Antelope County’s road superintendent be paid annually?

Conversation about wages for Aaron Boggs, who fills the position, filled approximately 30 minutes of discussion, Aug. 24, when the commissioners met to discuss budgeting for next year.

A committe, comprised of commissioners Dean Smith and Regina Krebs, met with Boggs and reviewed pay for the same position in surrounding counties.

“Our suggestion for the road superintendent will be his salary will be the same as the county clerk, county treasurer and county assesor, with the same yearly increase for the same four years,” Smith reported.

Chairman Charlie Henery asked how the deputy position in all offices would be paid.

Smith suggested 90% of the official’s pay.

County Assessor Kelly Mueller-Oltjenbruns expressed concerns about the same pay for an appointed position.

“I think it’s a slap in the face to the elected officials. They are under you guys, who are elected officials. We have to pay to file and we have to answer to voters of Antelope County. They have to answer to you,” she said.

County Clerk Lisa Payne said she agreed with Mueller-Oltjenbruns.

Smith said the road boss and his deputy deal with all Antelope County residents also. He noted they oversee 32 employees.

“At the end of the day, it’s on you, not them,” Mueller-Oltjenbruns said.

Smith said the committee proposal is not out of line. Other surrounding counties include a stipend for the road boss, in addition to the salary.

Krebs said Knox County aligns its road superintendent salary with county officials, plus a $10,000 stipend.

Payne asked why commissioners would guarantee an annual raise if the position is not an elected official.

“If we don’t, it will get overlooked like it has for the last three or four years,” Smith said. “Somebody who has not been tied to a cost-of-living increase ...”

Krebs interjected, “Which is why we’re in the situation we are.”

Payne said her cost-of-living increase totaled $500 from the last four years.

“You’re going to bump him up to my salary, after I’ve been here six years longer than he’s been?” Payne asked.

Smith said it is the commissioners’ responsibility to set salaries.

“We can take input from the public or other persons, but it is our responsibility,” he said.

Mueller-Oltjenbruns said elected officials’ salaries “have been totally ignored the last four years.”

Antelope County elected officials received a cost-of-living increase one year ago.

“Once every four years, we have to pay to actually run, so we would be making less,” she said. “When it comes down to the end of the day, being an elected official carries way more responsibility than working under somebody and being a department head.”

Krebs countered, “At the same time, he’s managing a $7 million budget.”

“I’m also in charge of a $3 billion evaluation,” Mueller-Oltjenbruns responded.

According to Henery, appointed county officials - road superintendent and foreman, veterans’ service office and weed control - all need the raise.

“When the end of the day comes, the elected officials can be taken out of office by votes. These guys have to be taken out of office by us. So ultimately, this is my personal feeling, five of us are in charge of these guys,” Henery said.

Krebs stressed the committee was offering a suggestion for the salaries.

“The commissioners, assessor, clerk, any of them are lower than any county around ... and have been for years. I don’t know how we solve this problem,” Henery said.

Smith made a motion to set the road superintendent salary and road foreman at 90% of the superintendent salary.

The motion would set the superintendent’s salary at $65,500 and the foreman’s salary at $58,950, effective Jan. 1, 2023.

Currently, Boggs’ salary is approximately $55,000.

Payne asked if the motion included an annual salary increase.

“Yes, it’s tied to the schedule of the elected officials,” Smith said.

Krebs seconded the motion, which failed on a two-two vote. Commissioner Eli Jacob was absent from the meeting.

Following discussion, Smith added, “I can’t believe this is happening. It’s revolting. If you’re not going to take the recommendation of the committee that was put in place to do it, you talk about a slap in the face ... We’ve done the researching and offered what’s competitive and then, we have other elected officials going against us? That’s crazy.”

Krebs said the committee evaluated how long Boggs has filled the road boss capacity.

“We’re playing catch up over the last three or four years. The calculations we did, giving Aaron a 4% raise over the last three years, would have gotten him to 64,300.”

She made a motion to set the road superintendent salary at $64,000, with the deputy’s salary at 90%.

The motion died due to lack of a second.

Smith’s motion to table discussion until the next commissioners’ meeting passed, 4-0.

 

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