December 22, 2014

County Commissioners grant raises to elected officials

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ARENAC COUNTY — Arenac County commissioners voted Dec. 21 to give raises to elected county officials.

The commissioners voted 3-2 to grant a 1 percent raise to the sheriff, register of deeds, drain commissioner, treasurer and clerk. They also approved a $500 raise to each county commissioner.

They later voted 5-0 to grant a $500 raise to the road commissioners.

According to Commissioner Michael Snyder, the wage increases are intended to catch the elected officials up after receiving a reduced raise last year. He said that last year, county employees received a 2 percent raise, while the elected officials only received a 1 percent raise.

“The elected officials …. They did not receive a full wage increase last year like the employees got,” Snyder said. “We’re OK to at least play catch-up with those things, as well as catch up with some of the reductions taken by the commissioners.”

Snyder said the commissioners have taken cuts to mileage pay, as well as per-diem pay in the past.

“My primary motive was just to get back what we had given up,” Snyder said.

According to Board of Commissioners Secretary Gail Seder, the commissioners have not received a wage increase since 2005. With the new increase, the commissioners will receive $4,500 per year.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Raymond Daniels and Vice Chairman Ronald Branda voted against the increase, saying the time is not right for an increase in wages.

“We made a mistake last year when we decided not to take per-diems, when we gave up $820, hoping other people would follow along, and they didn’t,” Daniels said at the meeting. “That was our mistake. I just think it’s a bad time to correct it.”

“In my heart, I just can’t see a 12.5 percent raise for us,” Branda said at the meeting. “I can understand something maybe next year, after looking at how things go, but we’ve asked all the other department heads … to stay within a really, really small increase, and at this time, I couldn’t support it.”

Snyder said that he felt the time was right to grant the increases if it was going to be done.

“If not now, when?” Snyder said at the meeting. “We’ve looked at this situation, and we’ve cut our per diem, we’ve cut our mileage … the job actually costs money to do. I think we are probably looking at the financial status of the county as good as it’s going to be from now until 2012.”

Daniels said he voted in favor of the road commissioner wage increase, because it would have been unfair to deny them a raise after granting the other elected officials raises.

Snyder said that, considering the cuts made in the past, the increases are an attempt to return to previous wages.

“It was an opportunity to get back where we were,” Snyder said.

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