SWEETWATER COUNTY — After several weeks of discussion, the Sweetwater County Commission has approved salary raises for the county sheriff, attorney, treasurer, assessor, clerk, clerk of district court, and coroner.
This issue was brought before the commission following a bill that passed during this year’s Wyoming Legislative budget session. The legislature passed HB91, which “amends the salaries for county assessors, part-time county-and-prosecuting attorneys, part-time county attorneys, county clerks, clerks of district court, county sheriffs, and county treasurers.”
This bill sets a cap on salaries at $145,000. Following the Commission’s unanimous approval, the sheriff and attorney salaries will move to that cap, increasing from $100,000 to $145,000.
“People do deserve raises. From my standpoint, the sheriff and attorney go right up to $145,000,” Commissioner Randy “Doc” Wendling said. The rest of the Commission agreed, given their workloads and the job requirements for those positions.
Assessor, Clerk, Clerk of District Court, Treasurer
In a 3-2 vote, the Commission approved an increase to the assessor, clerk, clerk of district court, and treasurer salaries, which will go from $100,000 to $125,000. Chairman Jeff Smith and Commissioner Wendling were the votes against, as they believed the raises should have been higher.
The salary amount bounced between $115,000 and $135,000 in several different motions before the decision was made at $125,000.
“We’ve danced around and I will make a statement of, I feel as though we are stepping over dollars for dimes. I think we’re close this year but I think we can come to an agreement and I would hope it would be on the higher end,” Chairman Smith said before the final vote.
He also said during a motion for the salaries to be $115,000 that he would be “very disappointed if that’s what we approve.”
The $115,000 amount was decided as it factored in a 6 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), which county employees received this year, as well as a few more percentage steps up. Chairman Smith wanted to see the salaries increased to $135,000, though he said he could go down to $130,000, which was what Commissioner Wendling suggested.
Wendling said the $130,000 sat between what Campbell County and Natrona County did for raises. County Assessor Dave Divis said the elected officials’ request was for $135,000 because the department heads have had about a 38 percent adjustment in salary since 2015.
“That’s a pretty good indicator, I mean, they’re doing more with less and so are we,” Divis said.
The Commission also had to vote on their own salaries, in which they voted 4-1 to keep them as is, which is at $36,000. Wendling was the one vote against.
As for the coroner salary, the Commission voted 3-2 to raise it from $65,000 to $85,000. Chairman Smith and Commissioner Wendling were once again the two votes against.
There was a debate about whether the coroner position is a part-time job, as it requires the coroner to be on call at all times. Though the county defines it as a part-time position, Wendling argued that it should be considered as otherwise due to the fact that the coroner is on call on holidays, weekends, and at all hours of the day and night.
“Everybody counts or nobody counts, so it’s time for that coroner to be considered as a valued elected official that everyone else is. It’s not a part-time job,” Commissioner Wendling said.
He wanted to see the salary be grouped in with the ones that were increased to $125,000. Smith said he would be willing to group the coroner in with these salaries as well.