Archive for the ‘Payroll’ Category

Board approves quarter million dollars in raises

September 14, 2018

One of the purposes of this blog is to report on the news that local reporters fail to report. Why am I reporting on it? Linn County Human Resources was open about a Compensation Study being underway; however, on Monday (9-9-2018) the Linn County Board of Supervisors (BOS) did not discuss the raises they approved during their meeting that day – click on Payroll Authorizations when the video appears.

Seems like raises as high as $18,000 per year should have garnered a news story. Seems like approving $233,730 in raises when you only budgeted $100,000 for raises should have garnered a news story. Seems like the Board should have been transparent with the news media and specifically indicated on their meeting agenda that they were approving $233,730 in raises that would require a budget amendment later this month. But none of that happened.

I am a transparency advocate.

The aforementioned compensation study was transparent right up to the most critical point … and then the BOS failed to be transparent. The same Supervisor(s) who contacted the news media to report an error made 10 years ago in one County office that will now cost the County $18,000, should be the same Supervisor(s) to contact the news media and tell them they are about to approve $233,730 in raises, which is $133,730 more than the BOS budgeted. It’s called transparency.

The news media failed to report; and the BOS failed to dislose; and the taxpayers are on the hook for $233,730 – and few people know about it … until now. – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Board of Supervisors approved salary increases effective 9-9-2018 .pdf

2017-2018 Non-Bargaining Job Evaluation and Compensation Study Report Presentation – Linn County Iowa.pdf

County elected officials getting 3% raises

January 30, 2018

On 1/29/2018, the Linn County Compensation Board met, i.e., four of them attended in-person and three called into the meeting. After consideration of the documents received prior to the meeting (see mine below) and the comments at the meeting, the Board recommended a three percent (3%) increase for all elected officials. If the Compensation Board’s increase is approved by the Linn County Board of Supervisors, the following elected official salaries will go into effect on 7/1/2018:

Attorney – $176K – see Code of Iowa Chapter 331.751–331.759 et al for a description of the duties;

Sheriff – $152K – see Chapter 331.651–331.661 et al;

Recorder and Treasurer – $110K – see 331.601–331.611 et al and 331.551–331.559 et al, respectively; and

Supervisors and Auditor – $107K – see Chapter 331 et al and 331.501–331.512 et al, respectively.

Considering that the income in half the households in Linn County is $60,989 per year or less; and considering that the Attorney, Recorder, Treasurer, and all three Supervisor jobs are on the ballot in 2018; I would think the new salaries would spawn some competitive races in 2018. – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

From: Miller, Joel
Sent: Friday, January 26, 2018 3:17 PM
To: Linn County Compensation Board

Subject: Input from Auditor re Monday’s Compensation Board meeting

Chairman Stefani et al,

Last year, I requested no increase in the salary for the County Auditor. This year, I am requesting that the salary of the County Auditor be increased by $3, 116.66, and then increased by whatever percentage increase the Recorder and Treasurer are awarded.

What’s changed? Prior to running in the June 2016 primary election, I publicly announced that I would not be seeking another term as County Auditor after the 2016 elections. In November of 2016, I was re-elected as Auditor and the voters decided to reduce the number of County Supervisors from five to three. For several months, I have been ….

I may not … and I most definitely will not be the Auditor on 2 January 2021.

So what do you want in your next Auditor? Who do you hope to attract to run for Auditor? What will skills, experience, and education should they bring to the job? The salary you set for the Auditor now and in subsequent years will determine who the applicants are for the job.

Does the status quo continue, i.e., the applicant pool comes from existing deputy auditors and/or other county employees? Or do you want to attract non-employee applicants, e.g., applicants with law degrees, MBAs, or CPAs?

I have attached a Excel spreadsheet from the Iowa State Association of Counties which indicates the FY18 (current year) salaries for the Auditor, Recorder, and Treasurer. I have sorted the spreadsheet using the Auditor v Recorder column. You can also sort it using the Auditor v Treasurer column.

Until your meeting last year, the Comp Board was adamant that the Auditor, Recorder, and Treasurer must be paid the same. Now, the Linn County Auditor along with the Clayton County Auditor are paid less than their respective County Recorders and Treasurers. Two other Auditors, i.e., Winneshiek and Cass are paid less than their respective Treasurers.

Two counties have eliminated the Office of County Recorder, i.e., Marshall and Woodbury counties, and their respective Auditors earn $3,557 and $2,142 more than their respective Treasurers, which is not much considering the responsibilities that were added onto them as Auditors & Recorders.

The spreadsheet also indicates that 44 counties pay their Auditors more than Recorders; and 41 counties pay their Auditors more than Treasurers. One county indicated the Auditor was paid more because he is the Board’s budget coordinator. One indicated that the difference in pay goes back to 1981 and no one remembers the justification. Two indicated their counties relied upon compensation studies to justify the difference in salaries, but they did not have any current studies available to me.

Since your meeting last year, I have asked the Board of Supervisors to include the county elected officials in a compensation study that is currently underway. The Human Resources Director was against amending the contract and the Board sided with her.

Perhaps, next year, when you meet, the Board can provide you with a compensation study.

In the meantime and at the very least, I ask that you consider increasing the salary of the Auditor to match the ultimate salaries given to the Recorder and Treasurer. ###

Auditor v Recorder v Treasurer 1-23-2018.xls

Township officials receive 25% pay increase

March 23, 2016

Today, the Linn County Board of Supervisors approved an increase in the hourly rate paid Linn County’s township officials, i.e., from $10 per hour to $12.50 per hour – a 25% increase.  I recommended a 50% increase for two reasons:  1>  once you become a township official, you may be an official for life and 2>  pay has been at $10.00 per hour since 2/8/2006.

Linn County has 19 townships with about half of the officials appointed by the Board and the other half elected.  At some point in time, some townships should be consolidated because the number of residents in the townships versus the incorporated areas of the county continues to dwindle.  And because few residents want to be saddled with the legal responsibilities of a township for so little pay.

If you are interested in becoming a township official, view the video below of a recent training session held in Linn County.  -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Public sector attorney wages – a comparison

February 18, 2016

After reading a Gazette story about the Linn County Compensation Board’s recommendations, a local attorney said to me, “I bet the local public defender is not making that much money” in referring to the proposed wages for the Linn County Attorney.  Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the State Public Defender’s Office in Johnson County and wondered how much the State’s public defenders (attorneys) are paid.  So I gathered some facts relative to Linn County – see table below.

Do these wage disparities make any sense? Chief Judge Grady and District Judge Miller preside over trials in which County Attorney Van Sanden is the prosecuting attorney and Sissel is the defense attorney; yet, a $14K to $32K pay gap exists between our County Attorney, and the judges and public defender.  Is the County Attorney paid too much?  Or are the judges and public defenders paid too little?  If you have an opinion, contact the Linn County Board of Supervisors regarding the Linn County Attorneys and/or contact your legislator regarding the State employees.  Seems to me that these wages are out of whack! –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Sources: Office of Linn County Auditor for County of Linn employees – click on hyperlinks for other sources.
Mark Cady Chief Justice of Iowa Supreme Court $178,538
Jerry Vander Sanden Linn County Attorney – elected $163,980
Patrick Grady Chief Judge of 6th Judicial District $149,226
Paul Miller District Court Judge – 6th District $143,897
N Maybanks & G Jarvis Assistant Linn County Attorneys $139,383
Brian Sissel Public Defender Supervisor – Linn County $131,592
Tom Miller Attorney General of Iowa – elected $123,669
T Johnson Public Defender 3 – Linn County $111,821
B Belcher Assistant Linn County Attorney $105,814
N Tucker Public Defender 2 – Linn County $93,517
D Davis Public Defender 2 – Linn County $67,041
A Dollash Public Defender 2 – Linn County $64,578
FY16 starting wage Prosecutor 1 – Linn County $63,742
K Frank Public Defender 1 – Linn County $38,730
D Grinde Public Defender 1 – Linn County $27,696
Key: County of Linn employees 1/1/2015 – 12/31/2015 wages; State of Iowa employees 7/1/2014 – 6/30/2015 wages

County elected officials’ salaries

January 28, 2016

On March 9th, the Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2017 and then certify the budget.  It’s an annual event and usually uneventful.  Barring any public outrage, I assume the Board will embrace the recommendations of the Compensation Board.

I presented a spreadsheet to the Comp Board for their consideration.  No one asked me a question about it.

Thus far, the poll below has not generated many votes.  For the poll to stir a whisper, at least 600 votes need to be cast.  So please take the time to vote.  Or comment on this blog if you have an opinion on salaries for Linn County’s elected officials.  -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor.  

Too much, too little, or just right?

January 18, 2016

Tomorrow (1/19), the Linn County Compensation Board will meet at 4pm in the Informal Boardroom of the Public Service Center.  Have an opinion?  Come express your opinion to the Board.  Don’t have time to attend the meeting?  Express your opinion here (you get six votes):   

Current employees of the County’s $100K Club for Calendar Year 2015 (note:  27 payrolls vs 26 for most years) are:

KNOTT DAVID H $109,273 SHERIFF – Captain
ROWLAND RANDALL D $105,802 SHERIFF – Lieutenant
STUELKE JOHN C $118,012 SHERIFF – 1st Deputy
NOVAK SUSAN K $101,422 COMMUNITY SERVICES – Finance Director
MCGIVERN GREGORY J $109,831 SHERIFF – Lieutenant
HANSEL GERALD W $116,482 SHERIFF – 2nd Deputy
GODAR JOHN A $115,783 SHERIFF – 2nd Deputy
BRADY PATRICK $100,939 SHERIFF – Sergeant
STEENBLOCK KENT J $105,828 SHERIFF – Lieutenant
RINIKER DOUGLAS A $119,044 SHERIFF – 2nd Deputy
SNOW RICHARD M $100,460 SHERIFF – Deputy
COLSTON CHAD C $108,319 SHERIFF – Lieutenant
WILSON PETER A $118,068 SHERIFF – 2nd Deputy
BECK LESLIE T $107,073 P & D – Director
KELLER JIMMY D $111,513 SHERIFF – Deputy

-Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor


July 13, 2012

As of July 13th, an estimated 29,129 eighteen and older registered voters are eligible to run for Linn County Supervisor in District #2 (D2) and another 30,610 are eligible to run for Supervisor in District #4 (D4).  About 145,280 twenty-one and older registered voters are eligible to run for Linn County Sheriff.

Any citizen of supervisor district D2 or D4 who will be 18 or older on 11/6/2012 can run for county supervisor in their home D2 or D4.  And any citizen who will be 21 or older on November 6th and has never been convicted of a felony can run for sheriff.  Note:  A newly elected sheriff must become a certified Iowa Peace Officer within one year of taking office.

Beginning on July 1, 2012, the salaries for sheriff and county supervisors are:

Sheriff – $121,797.05

Supervisor – $74,362.98

According to the US Census Bureau, the average household income (2006-2010) in the City of Cedar Rapids is $49,298, the average in Linn County is $53,674, and the average in the USA is $50,046.

Based upon data provided by the Census Bureau, about 80.1% of Linn County’s households earn less that the current salary of the Linn County Sheriff and 68.3% of households earn less than the current salary of a Linn County Supervisor.

What’s my point?  We have a plentiful supply of eligible citizens who could run for D2 and D4 county supervisor or sheriff – which are great paying jobs; yet, we have only one citizen running for D2 Supervisor, one running for D4 Supervisor, and one running for Sheriff.

I am surprised by the lack of competition.  The same county that produced four candidates for county auditor has thus far produced only one candidate for sheriff, one for D2 supervisor, and one for D4 supervisor.

The deadline to file to get on the November 6th ballot as a non-party political organization candidate, as a candidate for one of the parties not represented on the ballot, or as an independent candidate is 5pm on Wednesday, August 29th – 47 days away.

Maybe the lack of competition on the ballot for D2 county supervisor, D4 county supervisor, and the county sheriff is an indication of something else going on within Linn County?  Maybe your answers to the following survey will give us some perspective?  Please consider taking it. 

$100K club set for growth

February 1, 2012

One of Linn County’s most exclusive employee clubs – the $100K Club – will soon be growing.

The current members of the $100K Club based upon calendar year 2011 wages before taxes are:

Jerry Vander Sanden – County Attorney (elected) – $136,072.55

Gary Jarvis – Assistant County Attorney – $120,065.44

Steve Gannon – County Engineer – $116,399.50

Nick Maybanks – First Assistant County Attorney – $115,661.76

Stephen Tucker – Director of Budget & Finance – $111,516.89

Brian Gardner – County Sheriff (elected) – $111,268.72

John Brandt – Director of Linn County Community Services – 106,839.94

Pam Trenary – IT Systems Analyst – $106,546.62

Jeff Marek – Deputy Sheriff – $105,416.53

Dan Biechler – Conservation Director – $103,602.33

Jimmy Keller – Deputy Sheriff – $102,142.47

Jim Sorensen – Deputy Sheriff – $100,854.06

Richard Snow – Deputy Sheriff – $100,660.72

Today, the Board of Supervisors approved a 6.37% wage increase for the Sheriff and employee wages tied to his salary.  The following Deputy Sheriffs will join the $100K Club in fiscal year 2012/13:

John Stuelke – First Deputy Sheriff – $103K

John Godar – Second Deputy Sheriff – $101K

Gerald Hansel – Second Deputy Sheriff – $101K

Doug Riniker – Second Deputy Sheriff – $101K

Pete Wilson – Second Deputy Sheriff – $101K

Organizational chart – I work for you

April 2, 2011

When your business has only five employees, an org chart is not too important, i.e., unless you are trying to make a big sale and the buyer is concerned you are too small to deliver the product on-time at the agreed to price.  Suddenly, your org chart might contain more than you and your five employees.  It might have lines to this supplier and that vendor and this partner and that consultant.  And don’t forget all of the part-time employees who are available on a moments notice.

I will admit that org charts are a pain.  They are usually out of date by the time they are printed.  But they serve a purpose and one of those purposes is to graphically illustrate the command and control structure within an organization.  They can help you determine if an organization is balanced at each level of management or out of whack.  Are wages equitable for like positions?  What is the employee to manager ratio?  Who does that employee report to?

Creating and maintaining an org chart is a basic function of management.  It’s one of the first tasks I completed in 2007 when I became Auditor and I’ve posted an org chart or spreadsheet of my organization on for years.

On March 18th, I sent an email to my peers, the other nine elected Linn County officers, and their department heads asking for a recent (not older than 12 months) version of their org charts.  Coincidently, I thought posting an org chart would fit in with the theme of recognizing April as National County Government Month.

I created an organizational chart with the name, position, and estimated FY10/11 wages for the employees and managers reporting to your 10 County Officers.  For some positions, I’ve indicated “co-mgr” (co-manager) or “co-sup” (co-supervisor) meaning the employees are managed by several managers/supervisors.  For example, the shifts for the Jail Sergeants may differ from the Jail Deputies so supervision may change from day-to-day or week-to-week.

I believe the following organizations are 99% accurate:  Auditor, Treasurer, Recorder, Purchasing, Planning & Development (P&D), VA (Veterans Affairs), Engineer (Secondary Roads) and IT (Information Technology).

The Sheriff’s org is based upon the March 2010 chart posted on his web site.  The Attorney’s org is based upon my guesswork.  And the remainder of the departments were either non-responsive or they are still working on getting me their charts.  I will revise my initial  org chart draft when/if I receive updated information.

If you think it’s important for managers to have current org charts for their organizations – the organizations you pay for with your property taxes – then I suggest you contact your County Supervisor.  The Supervisors can be reached at 892-5000 or via

If you think my org chart project is a waste of time or you want to comment on this topic or any other, please post below.

I work for you.  I’ve indicated that on the org chart.

Vacations, accruals, and payouts

May 5, 2010

A week ago, after four online stories (Miller, Langston spar over Linn County official’s vacationTake a day off, Linn County employees* – Document shows vacation payouts to Linn employeesGomers:  What’s Going Wrong*) and two print stories (see *) plus a interesting exchange in an Elected Officials & Department Heads meeting hosted by Supervisors Langston and Oleson, I received a copy of a letter from EideBailly (CPAs and business advisors) indicating their audit findings for the County for the year ended June 30, 2009.

Guess what two of the topics are?  Vacation Accrual and Mandatory Vacation Policy.  The CPAs noted that the Auditor’s Office was the only office to limit deputies’ vacation accruals.  In addition, the CPAs recommended the County institute a policy requiring personnel to take at least one week of vacation at a time.

The CPAs report is dated December 23, 2009.  Not sure why I didn’t receive it until last week.  After all, I was one of only five elected officials to sign the management representation letter.  I should have asked for it sooner.  Then again, how do you know to ask for something when you don’t know it exists?

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