Cerro Gordo Compensation Board recommends 6% pay hikes for county’s elected officials

MASON CITY — The Cerro Gordo County Compensation Board Monday afternoon on a 4-to-2 vote approved recommending that the county’s elected officials receive a 6% pay increase as part of the next fiscal year budget starting July 1st.

The seven-member board consisting of two members appointed by the supervisors with one member representing each of the other elected officials meets each December to make salary recommendations to the Board of Supervisors as part of the budget process.

Board member Tim LaPointe unsuccessfully proposed a 12% increase since some county compensation boards such as Palo Alto and Story recently approved 10-14% increases. He says Cerro Gordo County employees deserve the same kind of boost.  “Our county budget is in very good shape, and the elected officials that caused that to happen should be rewarded. I wouldn’t mind seeing our pay rank be higher than the population rank as it used to be years ago, and now it’s about parity. As I said every year, our hard working county elected officials should be rewarded in years where we have had a good year with the budget.”

LaPointe says elected officials should be getting a raise at least at what the cost of living increase is as set by Social Security. “We’ve had another good year, the cost of living is at 8.7%, and to give less than the cost of living is not a raise in  my opinion. I would say, just to throw out for the sake of discussion that we’d have to have a raise for the county elected officials in Cerro Gordo County of over 8.7% to be fair to these people.”

Jim Finstad said the raises should be in line with what other county employees will be getting in the next fiscal year.  “I’ve got to be close to what the other employees are getting. The courthouse and all the people here are getting a 4% raise. The sheriff’s deputies are getting a 6% raise and the jailers are getting a 7% raise.”

Finstad says he can’t go along with the idea of raising elected officials salaries at a higher percentage compared to other county employees.  “I represent the sheriff. The sheriff has always told me that ‘I love my job, I don’t need a raise ever. I took the job because of the job and not the pay.’ I view that as a lot of elected officials, they took the job because they wanted to run for the office. Am I saying no raises at all? No. I’ve always said I cannot agree to give a raise higher than what the general employees make.”

LaPointe and Whitney Mixdorf voted against the recommendation, which now goes to the Board of Supervisors, who are not allowed by law to approve anything higher than the board’s recommendation, but they can freeze or cut their own pay.

The supervisors for the last six fiscal years have frozen their own pay while accepting most of the Compensation Board’s other recommendations.