County Board raises pay for three elected officersThe St. Croix County Board voted last week to set the 2009 pay for the county clerk, register of deeds and county treasurer at $61,000. Current pay for the three elected positions is $52,665.
By: Judy Wiff, Hudson Star-Observer
The St. Croix County Board voted last week to set the 2009 pay for the county clerk, register of deeds and county treasurer at $61,000.
Current pay for the three elected positions is $52,665. Last week’s action results in a 16 percent raise for 2009, but the annual pay for the three positions will not be increased during the rest of their new terms.
Starting this year, the three positions will be elected to four rather than two-year terms. Clerk of Court Lori Meyer and Sheriff Dennis Hillstead started four-year terms in 2007 as the state began switching over to the longer terms for county offices.
“We are considered department heads and have the same responsibility as department heads, yet our levels of pay are 40 percent lower than a Grade 9 department head,” said Treasurer Cheryl Slind, arguing for a higher salary for her job and the other two.
She suggested the 2009 salary for each of the three positions be set at $59,335 and that they be given 1.5 percent increases in each of the remaining three years of their terms.
Slind said the county has qualified people in the three jobs now, and just as with other jobs, the county has to pay well to keep good employees.
“When setting our salaries, please consider what we are expected to do, our skill levels, what we continue to do to exceed the level of service our constituents expect, and our level of responsibility,” she said.
The sheriff’s salary is $76,741 this year, increasing to $79,043 next year and $80,228 for 2010. The clerk of court’s salary is $52,665 this year, increasing to $54,245 in 2009 and $55,059 in 2010.
Lower taxes for seniors?
A proposal from River Falls Supervisor Chuck Struemke to ask the Wisconsin Legislature to freeze real estate taxes for senior citizens failed on a 6-15 vote.
Struemke proposed that the freeze go into effect when a person reached “the established age for Social Security” and the property owner lived on the property with no other person except his or her spouse or an immediate family member who was providing care for the senior citizen.
According to the resolution, pensions and Social Security don’t increase or increase less than real estate taxes and seniors are being encouraged to live in their homes as long as possible.
Other supervisors argued that it’s unfair and impractical to set different property tax rates for different sets of taxpayers and that a freeze on taxes for senior citizens would mean higher costs for younger taxpayers.
Board members approved an application for a $200,000 loan for WG Properties of St. Croix County and Emerald Dairy II.
The money, federal funds disbursed through the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, will be loaned to the dairy and its real estate holding company and will be used to develop filtration equipment and a process to produce usable water from manure.
“We think it’s a pretty exciting technology,” said Emerald Dairy owner John Vrieze. He said the farm will have an installation similar to a municipal treatment plant, releasing water clean enough to be used for other purposes.
Char Gurney, business development specialist for West Central Regional Planning Commission, said that as the money is repaid, it will go into the regional revolving loan fund and will be available to help other businesses expand.