Board approves raises for elected officials

No increase for commissioners

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Washington County’s two elected department heads, their top assistants and county administrator will get pay increases next year, but the Board of Commissioners opted Tuesday not to give themselves raises for 2013.

County Administrator Molly O’Rourke will see her 2013 pay rise 1.5 percent to more than $147,000 annually. O’Rourke was named county administrator earlier this year after the retirement of her predecessor, Jim Schug.

County Attorney Pete Orput received a 3 percent pay increase to more than $135,000. Orput’s first assistant county attorney will be paid more than $122,000, which is 90 percent of Orput’s salary. Orput’s executive assistant received raise to almost $52,500.

Sheriff Bill Hutton will see his 2013 pay rise slightly more than 2.4 percent to almost $135,800. Hutton’s chief deputy will receive a salary of slightly more than $122,000, 90 percent of the sheriff’s salary.

However, commissioners opted to keep their pay at slightly more than $52,700 annually, the same rate it has been since 2009.

State law requires the County Board to set the salaries of county’s two elected department heads and their top assistants based on their qualifications, experience, duties and job performance, O’Rourke said.

Commissioners Gary Kriesel and Dennis Hegberg both said the salaries paid O’Rourke and Orput, Hutton and their top assistants were competitive with other metro-area counties.

“I think they are. They’re consistent with other counties. I think they’re fair,” Kriesel said.

“We’re reasonable. We have good people who want the job,” Hegberg added.

Commissioners praised O’Rourke, Hutton and Orput during discussions on the resolutions setting their salaries.

“I do think Pete (Orput) is doing an outstanding job with his team,” said Commissioner Lisa Weik.

“I don’t think I have to remind the board about the excellent job the sheriff is doing,” Kriesel said.

“I think Bill Hutton has done an excellent job managing his department,” Hegberg added.

Kriesel also praised the job O’Rourke has done since taking over from Schug as county administrator.

“She’s done a stellar job. It’s been an absolutely seamless transition,” he said.

Commissioner Autumn Lehrke proposed not increasing commissioner’s pay, but also noted that commissioners in other metro counties earn significantly more per constituent than Washington County commissioners.

“If we put our salaries up to the metro average, we would be due a 24 percent increase,” she said.

Although Hegberg supported Lehrke’s motion, he said he considered commissioners’ salaries “in a different perspective.”

“Public servants shouldn’t sell themselves short,” he said. “We should have good pay to attract good people. Our job is 24-7. We do work hard. We want good people to run.”

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