Salary commission clears way for pay increases for county officials in 2007

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Certain Cape Girardeau county officers beginning a new term in 2007 will see a salary increase of 3.5 percent each year.

The Cape Girardeau County salary commission took action Thursday to raise the salaries of county offices which are up for re-election next year. However, the raise will only be seen if county employees are given the same or higher percentage raise for that same year.

County offices affected by the salary increase include county clerk, collector, auditor, recorder of deeds and presiding commissioner; all of which hold four-year terms that expire next year.

The salary commission, which consists of all county-elected officials, is authorized to meet in only odd-numbered years under past state law to consider pay issues.

"We had the opportunity to adjust salaries for elected positions when we became a first-class county," Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones said. In 1997 Cape Girardeau County received first-class status based on its total assessed valuation figures.

Most of the elected positions start off on the same base salary, which increases every year as the commission adds 3.5 percent for cost-of-living increases.

The annual 3.5 percent increase is something 2nd District Associate Commissioner Jay Purcell would like to see changed.

"At some point in time, we as a county need to set a salary cap for elected county officials," he said. "I'm not referring to the county employees, just the elected officials."

Purcell said he's already proposed the idea to other county officials.

"I know there will probably be some opposition, but it would be a wise thing to do," he said. "When I ran for office I said I would strive to cut costs. This is one area I plan to discuss more in the near future."

Currently the associate commissioners make $56,962 per year, which is $2,000 less than the presiding commissioner. The county clerk receives a salary of $61,291 and the collector, auditor, recorder of deeds and assessor bring in $58,962 per year.

Treasurer Roger Hudson also asked the salary commission to review a special statute passed last year by the Missouri Legislature. The law allowed the county to adjust the treasurer and public administrator salaries.

Last year the salary commission approved a pay increase for the county treasurer and public administrator positions. In 1997, when the first-class status was reached, the salary commission set the salaries for public administrator and treasurer at $37,000, almost $5,000 lower than the other positions.

At the 2004 special salary commission meeting, officials took action to set the new base salary of treasurer and public administrator equal with the salaries of other county officials. The base salary of $51,000 became effective when Hudson took office on January 1, 2005.

However, it's still not equal to the other positions, which make roughly more than $58,000 due to cost-of-living raises.

"I'm not unhappy and I'm not trying to complain," Hudson said. "I'm just asking that they re-look at what they did and make sure it was done right."

The salary commission took action to review the treasurer and public administrator salaries at an upcoming meeting.

jfreeze@semissourian.com

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