ROCK SPRINGS – The Western Wyoming Community College Board of Trustees set a salary range for the college’s presidential search, but not everyone is on the same page with what that range should be.
The range the trustees approved is $196,000 to $215,000 a year, with up to a $30,000 allowance for other living expenses. Everyone but trustee Niel Kourbelas approved the range, with Kourbelas raising issues with the expense allowance and range itself. He believes the range should be between $165,000 to $248,000, which represents a 40% spread on the median Wyoming community college presidential salary of $206,822 a year. The figure Kourbelas cites comes from a salary study commissioned by the college.
While Kourbalas admits there will be negotiations between the college and the prospective president but said the low end of the scale he proposed would be the absolute lowest the college would pay for the role. He is also opposed to any sort of additional stipend for living or automobile usage.
“It’s absurd giving someone who makes $200,000 a year a stipend for housing or a stipend to drive their car,” Kourbelas said. “It makes absolutely no sense to me.”
Kourbelas hoped to defeat the original proposal through discussion but fell short in the attempt. Trustee President Jim Jessen said the allowance would be negotiated, saying the college couldn’t offer the maximum amount in that salary range. As far as stipends go, Jessen said housing and vehicle stipends are common for high-level administrative positions. The practice of offering stipends for personal vehicle use or housing isn’t uncommon in Sweetwater County as the college has previously offered housing as part of the presidential compensation. At one point, an onsite residence for the president existed on the college grounds. An automobile stipend is part of other administrative compensation packages within the area, such as the $800-a-month stipend paid to Green River City Administrator Reed Clevenger.
For Kourbelas however, the college president isn’t different than any other college employee and he argued that a living allowance would be better utilized for other, lower-paid positions. When the vote was made, Kourbelas was the only dissenting vote for the salary range. Trustee Stephen P. Allen was absent and did not vote.