So apparently I was wrong when I wrote a few Sundays ago that the Linn County Compensation Board would certainly reconvene and clean up the county salary debacle. Instead, comp board members took the Board of Supervisors request to meet again and slapped it back over the net. Scheduling difficulties, you know how it is.
The Gazette’s Adam Belz has the story here this morning.
I was wrong, but that’s not surprising. Nor is it shocking that the comp board would want to avoid wading back into the muck a month after it recommended 6 percent pay hikes for county elected officials.
That vote ticked off a lot of fed up folks, especially after many of those same folks voted to expand the Board of Supervisors from three to five members. Did voters really want their supervisors to get more pay for covering less ground? Many say, loudly, they did not.
That’s a question voters will get a chance to answer this fall when all three current supervisors stand for re-election and two new seats are on the ballot. The jockeying has already started.
But the current pay fight is now back in the laps of supervisors, who vowed to freeze county pay if the comp board didn’t re-ride to the rescue. And thanks to state law, the supervisors can’t freeze their own pay without freezing pay for all county politicians and some of their deputies.
Now, the supervisors must chose between infuriating voters by going back on that pledge or smacking their fellow county politicians by going through with it. It’s a tough call, but that’s why they earn the big bucks.
It’s tough to feel much sympathy. This episode could have been nipped in the bud last month if supervisors Linda Langston and Lu Barron had stood up and voiced their apparent preference for a pay freeze. In this case hindsight wasn’t enough.
My bet is on a pay freeze now, but I’ve been wrong before.
Meanwhile in Des Moines, Rep. Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, is filing a bill that would give boards of supervisors statewide the power to lower their own salaries without affecting other county offices. That kind of flexibility would have allowed Linn County’s supervisors to clean up this mess without begging the comp board to reconvene.
The bill’s future is uncertain, but it sounds like a no-brainer.