Weigh in on my salary

One week from tomorrow, i.e., at 4pm, Tuesday, February 3rd, the Linn County Compensation Board will meet at Westdale Mall.  The purpose of the meeting is to determine the salaries of Linn County’s ten elected officials, i.e., the five supervisors, the auditor, treasurer, sheriff, recorder, and county attorney. 


The eligibility requirements for these officials are remarkable when compared to the private sector.  You must be an eligible elector, i.e., 18 years of age, a US citizen, and reside in Linn County – except supervisors must reside in the district which elects them.  The county attorney must be admitted to the bar, which means s/he graduated from law school and passed the bar exam.  The sheriff must be a certified peace officer or obtain certification within one year of being elected.  Remarkably simple.


The reality is that all of the officials came into office with more than the minimums.  Maybe an 18 year old with an 8th grade education was elected some time in the past, but probably not in the last 50 years.  Some officials have substantially more education than the minimum, e.g., Sheriff Gardner has a master’s degree.


The duty of the Compensation Board (CB) is to set the pay of the officials and keep it competitive in the marketplace.  My interpretation of that duty is that the CB should look at the marketplace, i.e., the salaries paid to like positions funded by taxpayer dollars (e.g., schools, cities, and the State of Iowa) and salaries paid to like positions in the non-profit sector and salaries paid in the for-profit sector. 


For years, I’ve heard one common theme about government:  It needs to be run like a business.  My reaction to that statement is:  If you want government run like a business, then you better be prepared to pay the executives who run the offices a salary that attracts them to run for political office and sustains them while they hold office.


That said, I report to you, the public, so I’m going to take a bold step and ask you to weigh in on my salary for the next fiscal year, i.e., from 1 July 2009 through 30 June 2010.  Here are some facts to consider:


  1. Present salary – $87,622 per year
  2. Official titles:  County Auditor, Commissioner of Elections, Clerk to the Board of Supervisors, and Facilities Manager
  3. Departments:  Elections Services, Accounting Services, Property Tax Services, Facilities Services, GIS/Mapping Services, Real Estate Services, and Clerk Services (Board of Supervisors).
  4. # of personnel:  53 plus 4 seasonal employees and an additional 400-600+ precinct election officials on election days depending on the type of election.
  5. Budgets managed:  $5.1M – ($760K for Accounting Services, $844K for Elections Services, $392K for GIS/Mapping Services, and $3.1M for Facilities Services).
  6. # of direct reports:  8 – (1 – First Deputy Auditor, 2 – Deputy Commissioners of Elections, 2 – Assistant Facilities Services Managers, 1- Administrative Secretary, 1- Senior Custodian, and 1- Senior Facilities Worker.)
  7. Additional information is available here
  8. My official profile is available here 

Before you vote, please let me set some expectations.  While I report to the public, i.e., the 215,000+ residents (aged 1 day to 100+ years of age) of Linn County, the Linn County Compensation Board (composed of seven members) will make a recommendation on my salary and the other officials.  Ultimately, the Board of Supervisors (BOS) can concur with the CB recommendation or lower the recommendation for all of the officials.  The BOS cannot increase the amount, if any, proposed by the CB.


One last tidbit.  Whatever the CB does to my salary directly affects my four (4) deputies.  By statute, the salary paid to the deputy of an elected official cannot exceed 85% of the salary paid to the elected official.  This statute does NOT apply to personnel reporting to the Board of Supervisors as they do NOT have any deputies reporting to them.

P.S.  I’d like to see at least one hundred (100) votes in the poll.  Please don’t vote more than once, but DO encourage others to vote.

7 Responses to “Weigh in on my salary”

  1. Mary Sharp Says:

    I think our commissioner of elections does a very good, transparent job. I think it would be incredible, though, if all elected officials agreed to a wage freeze during tough economic times. It would show compassion for people who’ve lost their homes in a flood, as well as those who’ve lost jobs or who are losing business in this recession. No one likes to skip a raise, but it’s good to have a secure job with benefits — something few people can say these days.


  2. Kathy Potts Says:

    I agree with Mary, there should be a freeze for this year. I do believe that you deserve a raise yearly, however, it is just not a wise economic decision at this time. Thanks for listening Joel.


  3. Seth Moomey Says:

    First, let me preface this by saying that I think you’ve done remarkably well in your position thus far. You’ve handled record turnouts, disaster recovery conditions, and taken seriously your duties as clerk of the BOS. You’ve opened up the process and have allowed a level of discourse with your blog (and in person) that most elected officials shy away from.

    That said, there are many, many, people that do an outstanding job in their professional careers that, due to the rough economy, have had to make due with cut benefits and salary freezes.

    In a time when we are seeing budget crunches across the board, staggering estimates of recovery needs, and citizens tapped nearly dry.. I think it only right that all elected official’s salaries are effectively frozen.


  4. What’s Happening? » Blog Archive » Rent-an-Auditor » Blog Archive » Your Auditor, is He Right For the … Says:

    […] Weigh in on my salary « Views from the Linn County Auditor […]


  5. What’s Your Auditor Worth? « 24-Hour Dorman Says:

    […] Auditor Worth? Jump to Comments Linn County Auditor Joel Miller is a brave man. He’s asking the public to weigh in on his salaryfor the next fiscal year. He’s posing the $87,622 question at his Views from the Linn County […]


  6. James Hagen Says:

    I believe you are doing an outstanding job and have a knack for asking the tough questions. You also are not afraid to stand up to others and challenge them to validate their positions. Please keep up the good work. I also believe you are well compensated when you add in the benefits package. My opinion is that a wage freeze would be appropriate at this time. A reduction would cause complications across several areas and I also think a reduction is not warrented.

    The BOS, however, is another matter and needs to be carefully looked at considering the workload across 5 people and the level of results over the last few years. The change of duties from full time to part time and then back to full time after the election was a clear lack of respect for the voters and a thinly veiled attempt to dupe the public.


  7. I said freeze my salary « Views from the Linn County Auditor Says:

    […] the 117 people who participated in my poll:  You are my boss. What would you do to my salary for the next fiscal year?  THANK YOU for participating in the poll!  I heard […]


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