The Boone County salary commission, comprised of 12 elected county officials, voted unanimously Wednesday morning to continue using a formula adopted in 1997 to calculate their own raises.
The vote applies to all county officials up for election in 2018. This includes the presiding commissioner, county clerk, recorder of deeds, county auditor and collector of revenue.
The raises will go into effect at the beginning of each official’s term in 2019.
County Counselor C.J. Dykhouse said the exact salary figures won’t be calculated until the county reviews its budget next month.
The presiding commissioner, Dan Atwill, now earns a salary of $98,321.60. The clerk, recorder, auditor and collector — Taylor Burks, Nora Dietzel, June Pitchford and Brian McCollum, respectively — each earn a salary of $96,304.
The salary commission can approve any percentage increase for officials, but in 1997 and 1999, it agreed to adopt this formula for all county elected officials.
The formula raises the salaries of county elected officials each year at the same rate as county employees. The presiding commissioner receives $2,000 more than the associate commissioners and other officials. The commission has stuck to that plan since.
Dykhouse said the county was ahead of the curve in adopting the formula in 1997.
The state Constitution bans mid-term salary increases for county officials, but in 2012 the Missouri Supreme Court ruled a mid-term increase was OK if it came from a formula established before that official’s term began.
According to state statute, the county salary commission must meet at least once every odd-numbered year.
Pitchford asked Dykhouse at Wednesday’s meeting whether the commissions met in odd years so that salaries would be set for the offices up for election the following year. That means salaries can’t be changed after an election is decided.
“That’s correct,” Dykhouse said. “We have to get this work done prior to opening a declaration of candidacies for the offices that are opening up in 2018.”
All county elected officials except the prosecuting attorney sit on the commission. The commission votes on raises for all elected officials except the prosecuting attorney, the sheriff and the circuit clerk. Salaries for those positions are set by different state statutes.
“Roughly half of you are up for election every two years,” Dykhouse told the commission. “So it takes two salary commissions to get a change effective for all offices.”
The commission must give all officials the same percentage increase in salary, according to state statute passed in 2005.
Dykhouse said the state was catching up to Boone County, as the formula adopted in 1997 already gave officials the same percentage increases.
“The statute was designed to prevent the kind of gamesmanship and mischief that can lead you down a path,” Dykhouse said. “We had actually adopted that philosophy back in ‘97, ‘99, so the 2005 statute didn’t change our course, but now everybody is on a similar arc.”