Commissioners will pay for their own rides

The Island County commissioners have found a crafty way around a clause in the state constitution that prevents them from cutting their own salaries.

The three commissioners wanted to lower their wages, or at least do away with their automatic 5-percent pay increase this year, to help out with the county’s yawning $2 million budget gap.

Budget Director Elaine Marlow said the prosecutor’s office told them they couldn’t legally cut their own salaries while in office. Instead, the commissioners decided to suspend their car allowance.

“They all wanted to pitch in,” she said.

It’s not exactly peanuts, but will save the county $25,200 a year. Each commissioner normally receives $700 a month as a travel allowance.

The suspension of the allowance is comparable to a 10 percent decrease in the commissioners’ salaries, Marlow explained.

All Island County elected officials received a 5 percent raise this year, as they do every odd-numbered year, under a county ordinance. For the commissioners, that meant a $3,737 raise, from $74,758 to $78,495 a year.

The salaries for the county assessor, auditor, clerk, coroner and treasurer are pegged at 90 percent of the commissioners’ salary. They each received a $3,363 raise this year. The sheriff receives 110 percent of the commissioners’ salary, so his raise was $4,111.

The prosecuting attorney also got a pay hike, though half of his salary is based on the commissioners’ salary and the other half is paid by the state, Marlow explained. The judges’ salaries are set by the state salary commission.

“Other elected officials are trying to grapple with how they can reduce their reimbursements,” Marlow said.

Similarly to the commissioners, the budget director said some of the elected officials haven’t been asking for reimbursements for travel and other expenses.

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