COMMISSIONERS TO RECONSIDER RAISES
May 18, 2001 11:00 pm

By BILL LUNDQUIST

GOLD BEACH- In the wake of the defeat of the law levy, and with union negotiations threatening to put the county back into a budget deficit, Commissioner Marlyn Schafer said Friday that county elected officials may not be getting raises after all.

The county budget committee voted 5-1 on April 26 to accept the recommendation of the Elected Officials Compensation Board to give the commissioners a $2,500 a year raise each. Other elected officials got $2,000 each.

The three lay members of the budget committee that make up the compensation board made the recommendation as a take-it-or-leave-it offer.

Those members all voted to approve the raise, as did Schafer and Commissioner Lucie La Bont. Only Commissioner Cheryl Thorp voted against the raises.

Both Schafer and La Bont said at the time that they thought other elected officials deserved something, but they were not comfortable with the package offered by the compensation board.

Schafer said she since learned from County Counsel Jerry Herbage that the vote of the budget committee on the raises is not binding, but is merely a recommendation.

She said the commissioners have the right to accept the raises as approved, decline them, or modify them. They can increase the budget 10 percent without convening the budget committee, or could decrease it by any amount.

"We're not going to take the raises," she said Friday. "It was just a recommendation. It can be changed." She felt, however, that the commissioners deserved something. She said they've been working 12-14 hour days to put the county in good long-term financial shape.

"We're the CEOs of the county. We have to make important and tough decisions every day. Where our department heads have to work for three bosses, us, the people are our bosses."

"The key issue is treating people fairly and the same," said Schafer. After union negotiations are over, the commissioners might consider raises for elected officials in line with union raises.

First, said Schafer, "We have to balance the budget. I am committed to not losing any more deputies."If that means no raises for elected officials, she said, then there will be no raises.