Jefferson County commissioners get 32 percent raise

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Jefferson County Courthouse | EastIdahoNews.com file photo

RIGBY — Jefferson County commissioners have raised their annual part-time salaries by 32 percent.

The raise brings each commissioner’s salary up to $36,000 — that’s an $8,788 increase from their previous salary of $27,212, according to the 2018 fiscal budget.

The raise, while significant, brings the commissioner’s salary in line with pay scales in surrounding counties. It was approved by the commission, following a public hearing on Sept. 5.

In Madison County, commissioners make $32,445, and in Fremont County, commissioners make $38,040 with a $5,000 bonus for the chairman.

The county commissioner positions in all three counties are part-time.

In Bonneville County, commissioners are full-time; they make $76,867. At a part-time rate, the Bonneville pay scale would equal about $38,500 annually.

Part of the rationale behind the pay increase is because Jefferson County commissioners are doubling the number of monthly meetings — from twice a month to weekly. But Commission Chairman Brian Farnsworth said the pay raise is about more than that.

“If they want to quantify this by (number of) meetings, it doesn’t work,” Farnsworth told EastIdahoNews.com. “If they want to quantify it by hour, we’re basically considered 24/7. I get phone calls at five in the morning. I get phone calls at 11 at night. I got a phone call at two in the morning once. The policymakers are the only ones that can declare a disaster or an emergency so, they need us around.”

One of the commissioners was in disagreement with the increase.

“It was my opinion, of course — I felt that we should take a much smaller increase or no increase at all,” Commissioner Scott Hancock told EastIdahoNews.com. “I didn’t take the job for money. I took it to help the county.”

Hancock said he plans to request he only take a three to four percent increase similar to what other elected officials received in the budget, or none.

Farnsworth said he hopes the extra scheduled meetings will help to increase oversight in Jefferson County.

“Look at what happened in the past,” he said. “How come all of the things that happened in Jefferson County happened to them? Everybody knows what happened to (former Sheriff Blair Olsen) . Was that from good oversight? I think that was from lack of oversight.”

Farnsworth explained if the budget didn’t cover all of the county’s different department’s needs the commissioners pay would have been the first to be cut.

“We were able to fund every department with what they asked for,” he said.