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Elected county officials get pay raises
"Island County commissioners have granted pay raises to elected officials in five county departments, though those officials are only getting half of what they requested.County commissioners on Monday unanimously approved to bump the salaries of the auditor, assessor, treasurer, clerk and coroner from $54,892 to $58,121.By state law, the salaries of Island County elected officials are set as a percentage - in this instance, 85 percent - of that earned by the District 3 position on the board of commissioners, now held by Bill Thorn.Last May, the heads of the five departments - County Clerk Marilee Black, Assessor Tom Baenen, Coroner Robert Bishop, Auditor Suzanne Sinclair and Treasurer Maxine Sauter - sent in a request for raises to 95 percent.The commissioners gave them 90 - then suggested they will consider the remainder of the raise during budget workshops in September.We're not opposed to it intellectually, Thorn said of the 95 percent increase.Thorn said when considering pay increases the commissioners look at the average salaries of officials in six comparatively sized counties.We don't want to be the low guy, Thorn said.The salary increase is absorbed out of the general fund's current expense, which has been hit exceptionally hard by the loss of state revenues following the passage of Initiative 695. The initiative, which passed in 1999, limits auto license plate tab fees to a flat $30 a year, and controls some state spending.Thorn said Island County's operating budget has been cut by about $616,000 as a result of I-695.And that's the rub, Thorn said about the difficulties of granting the officials' full requests. At budget, we will consider another 5 percent.Thorn added that, as for the 90 percent the commissioners arrived at, the numbers just turned out that way, so that's what we've chosen.A list provided by the commissioners' office of salaries in similarly based comparable jurisdictions shows that, even with the raise, Island County elected officials are still receiving lower-than-average pay.The average salary of elected officials in the counties of Clallam, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason and Skagit is 95.5 percent of a commissioner's pay. "