The Jasper County Compensation Board had its annual meeting Wednesday night, and one of its newest appointees challenged the county’s current compensation practices for elected officials.
“I know I’m the new kid on the block, but when you look at the sheriff, and I’m not picking on you sheriff, he makes $21,533 more on average than the average sheriff in the state,” board member Larry Pauley said referring to Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty’s current income.
Pauley questioned Halferty’s and Jasper County Attorney Mike Jacobsen’s salaries after fellow board member John Billingsley suggested they recommend to the Jasper County Board of Supervisors that each receive a 3 percent pay bump for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
“We can have a discourse on what it’s like to have an interstate in your county and things like that, and most other counties don’t have that, a racetrack and a prison, you know?” Billingsley said.
Billingsley had suggested 3 percent and cited those reasons along with the increase in cost of living, how crime has grown within the county, the cost and time of prisoner transports and the additional duties each of those men are tasked with as reasons for the increase.
Halferty currently makes $92,317 annually, and Jacobsen makes $102,757 annually. Both men were in attendance and had previously provided the board with detailed information about their job duties, the salaries of similarly-positioned professionals and relevant data to their profession.
The sheriff’s office handles approximately 34,000 calls a year, has 50 employees, maintains the only jail facility in the county, handles all dispatch calls, provides the only law enforcement service for seven towns in Jasper County, and its $4.2 million operating budget is the equivalent of both the Newton and Grinnell police departments’ budgets combined.
The Jasper County Attorney’s Office opened 2,299 new cases during 2013, help oversee the approval for all search warrants issued, handle the county’s legal business, serves as advisers to the board of supervisors and handles criminal, juvenile and civil court cases.
After much discussion, long-time board member Dean Ward suggested they recommend to the board of supervisors a wage increase of 4 percent for both Halferty and Jacobsen. Although Pauley had suggested a smaller wage increase, he and the other six members of the compensation board unanimously approved the measure.
“Reading the paper, we got more crime in Jasper County today than when I was growing up, and that was a long time ago,” Ward said of why he suggested 4 percent. “We still want to maintain law and order.”
The board had a much easier time agreeing for pay raises for Jasper County’s auditor, recorder and treasurer Dennis Parrott, Nancy Parrott and Doug Bishop, respectively. Several years ago, the compensation board agreed to keep all three positions at the same salary. All three made $64,575 in 2013.
Ward suggested a 3 percent raise to recommend to the supervisors for those three positions, and the vote passed unanimously.
When the raises for the supervisors themselves were brought up, it was suggested, and approved, that they should receive a 3 percent raise.
“That’s the standard of living, and if they are so inclined, I would second that (motion),” Billingsley said.
Joe Brock, Dennis Carpenter and Dennis Stevenson are the current members of the board of supervisors. Each supervisor makes $41,200 annually, and the compensation board voted that the supervisors’ board chair should receive an extra $2,000 for the additional work that goes with that title. Brock is now serving in his first year as chair.
Dennis Parrott, who was also in attendance, explained to the board that the supervisors had declined to take raises for the last three years. Ward said they should consider accepting them for all the work they’ve done and specifically cited the geothermal heating project done at the courthouse.
“From what I’m understanding, it works, and they’re saving money,” Ward said.
Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at email@example.com.