GOLD BEACH The Curry County Elected Officials Compensation Board on Thursday recommended no raises for elected officials for the 2001-02 fiscal year unless the budget picture improves.

The board is made up of the lay members of the county budget committee: Harold Whitson of Brookings, Don Buffington of Gold Beach, and Scott McKenzie of Port Orford.

Whitson told The Pilot Monday the commissioners had asked for one recommendation for a budget similar to last years, and another for a wish list budget.

He said after a lengthy discussion, the board voted to recommend no raise for the first option.

For the wish list budget, the board recommended a $2,500 raise for county commissioners, and $2,000 for other elected officials, said Whitson.

All elected officials are currently paid $37,500 a year, except the sheriff, who by state law must make more than his highest-paid employee. He is currently paid $46,140 a year.

The board conducted a salary study which showed the consumer price index rose 42.2 percent from January 1989 to January 2000.

At the same time, the commissioners salaries rose 7.2 percent, the sheriffs 30.4 percent, and other elected officials 12.7 percent.

All elected officials received a 6 percent salary cut in fiscal year 1994-95. In 1996-97, the commissioners salaries were cut by 19.8 percent, and other elected officials salaries decreased by 10.3 percent. The sheriffs salary did not change that year.

The study also averaged monthly salaries from two years ago for five counties with populations similar to Curry Countys.

Those included Columbia, Lincoln, Tillamook, Union and Wasco. The averages also included Curry County.

The average monthly salaries were $4,277 for commissioners, $4,343 for sheriffs, $4,115 for county clerks, $3,816 for surveyors, $4,137 for treasurers, $4,194 for assessors.

In Curry County, the average monthly salaries are $3,845 for the sheriff and $3,125 for all other elected officials.

The study said, Of the sample counties, Curry County pays the lowest salary for all of its elected officials.

The difference between Curry County, the lowest, and the next lowest ranged from $159 per month to $632 per month.

During last years budget hearings, the compensation board offered a $2,000 raise to all elected officials. The budget committee voted the proposal down.

There was quite a bit of discussion over the countys growing budget, said Whitson of Thursdays meeting.

He said the county has spent $750,000 more than it did in fiscal year 1999-2000, and the current fiscal year is not over yet.

In the event of a disaster such as the earthquake in Seattle, said Whitson, the county would be up the creek.

He said the county has no contingency fund for damaged buildings, and the courthouse annex was condemned once before due to lack of funds to repair it.

He said the majority of board members felt the county should develop a contingency fund.