O'Brien County board proposes pay raises

Rich Vander Werff, chair of O’Brien County’s compensation board, speaks to the board of supervisors Tuesday, Jan. 12, regarding recommended salary increases for elected officials. The supervisors did not take action on the recommendations.

PRIMGHAR—The year of 2020 wasn’t easy because of the coronavirus pandemic, but Rich Vander Werff thinks the employees of O’Brien County performed their jobs well.

Vander Werff, who chairs the county’s compensation board, said as much to the board of supervisors during its meeting Tuesday, Jan. 12.

The compensation board convened earlier that morning, and Vander Werff presented its recommendations for proposed increases to elected officials’ salaries for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

“There was no rule book for, ‘What do we do when COVID strikes?’” Vander Werff said.

“But everyone did whatever they had to do to make it work and the various offices and everyone from the sheriff’s department to the auditor, the recorder, to the treasurer, the county attorney, all those positions adapted and did a super job. I think everything continued on fairly seamlessly for the public.”

He told the supervisors the compensation board narrowed down three traits that epitomize how county employees approach their work: professionalism, common sense and care for the people they serve.

“The comp board wants to recognize all of the elected officials and all of the employees of the county for their great job that they did this year,” Vander Werff said.

The salary increases for elected officials, which would take effect July 1, were as follows:

  • A 3 percent increase for the county attorney’s position, from $101,092 to $104,124.76.
  • A 3.5 percent increase for the sheriff’s position, from $90,549 to $93,718.22.
  • A 3 percent increase for the positions of the auditor, recorder and treasurer, from $66,446 to $68,439.38.
  • A 3 percent increase for each supervisor position, from $29,878 to $30,774.34.

The compensation board also recommended the supervisors approve a one-time reimbursement of $12,900 to county attorney Rachael Becker for work she did assisting Lyon County while that county was temporarily without an attorney.

Vander Werff said the $12,900 was paid for by Lyon County and that the compensation board simply wanted to affirm the reimbursement process for Becker’s work.

He noted the compensation board reached all the other recommended salary increases for the other positions unanimously.

“We think this proposal is fiscally conservative, good for the county, good for our employees and we would highly recommend the board approve this proposal without reduction,” Vander Werff said.

He also said he has worked in several other counties in Iowa on occasion and said O’Brien County employees often take for granted the fact they work together well and get things done.

“You have counties where that doesn’t happen and then the disruptions that creates for the public and the costs to try to mitigate some of that,” he said. “We have a lot to be thankful for with just a great working relationship with everybody here in the county.”

The supervisors thanked Vander Werff and the other compensation board members for the work they did in evaluating the recommended salary increases. The supervisors took no action on the recommendations.