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Delegation sets salaries for elected county officials

May 22, 2014
OSSIPEE — If a 40-cents-per-hour raise is good enough for county employees, it is good enough for their bosses, according to the decision made May 19 by the county delegation. Thirteen of the 15 state representatives who also serve as the county delegation met to set the salaries for elected officials for the upcoming two years.

According to state law, NH RSA 23:7, the delegates must set the salaries for elected officials prior to the date the filing period opens. That way, those considering a run for office will know what the position pays and what benefits are offered.

Throughout the 2014 budget setting process, the point that non-union county employees would be getting the same 40-cents-per-hour increase as the union employees was oft repeated. At the May 19 delegation meeting, Rep. Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett) said if that was what the budget makers were willing to give county employees then the elected department heads (sheriff, register of deeds, county attorney, county commissioners) and the county treasurer deserved no more than that. The increase, based on a 40-hour workweek equals an $832 increase to their annual salary.

Swayed by discussion that the current register of deeds, Ann Aiton, would like to retire but the salary currently offered at $45,000 is not enough to entice a qualified candidate, the delegation voted to increase the register salary to $50,000.

Rep. Susan Ticehurst (D-Tamworth) told the delegates, "I believe that every position regardless of status involves work that is satisfying, as well as demanding, important and valued. Every employee that we have here, whether they are elected, management, union, experienced, are providing excellent service and deserve appropriate compensation. And if they are not, that is a personnel issue and not a salary issue. We must assure all county employees are compensated at at least a living wage before raising salaries of elected officials who are already over that wage." Ticehurst said that, based on her research, a living wage for a family of one adult and one child in Carroll County is $20.37 per hour. There are currently 18 County employee positions that pay less than a livable wage, said Ticehurst.

She suggested a three-stage strategy for addressing the alleged wage disparity. The first step would be raising compensation for those earning less than a living wage. Second, adjust the salaries of elected officials to be comparable with similar positions in other counties. And lastly, adjusting the salaries of elected officials to be in line with similar positions in the private sector.

The delegation agreed with her recommendation and have appointed a compensation and benefits review committee. The first meeting of that committee is tentatively scheduled to be held at the Carroll County complex June 2.

With the approved increases, the register of deeds annual salary will be $50,000 for 2015 and 2016; county attorney $72,870; sheriff $63,647; treasurer $5,557; and commissioners $11,332. Additionally, the sheriff, register, and county attorney are eligible to join the County health insurance plan with the County paying 80 percent of a single-person plan. The cost of any additional coverage is borne by the elected official.

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