Lawmakers Quietly Change Supervisor Pay Law

After all the loud debate around these parts about county supervisor pay, state lawmakers quietly approved a change in the legislative session’s final hours that could head off future debacles.

A provision was added to a massive budget bill (Page 45, Line 12) that would allow county supervisors to lower their own pay without affecting salaries paid to other elected officials. House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, succeeded in winning the change at the last minute.

Gov. Chet Culver must still take action on the bill.

Current law forces supervisors to either accept or decrease pay recommendations from county compensation boards. And if they opt to slice their own pay, supervisors are required by law to also cut pay for other elected officials.  All salaries are tied together under the outdated compensation board system.

It’s that rigidity that famously pushed the Linn County Board of Supervisors into the proceedural gymnastics of  voting to make themselves part-time employees in order to take a pay cut. The board’s effort to go back to full-time status, at higher pay, sparked a new salary battle earlier this year.

The whole mess could have been avoided if the supervisors simply had the power to cut their own pay independently. Now they do.

It’s one good step closer to scrapping the compensation board structure, which puts a lot of power in the hands of appointees hand-picked by the same officials’ whose pay is on the line.

Elected supervisors should have the final say on all salaries, period. That’s the next step.

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