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County gives 2011 increase to clerk of court but not sheriff

The St. Croix County clerk of court who takes office at the start of 2011 will get an 11 percent pay raise, but there will be no increase for the sheriff.

Next year's pay for the clerk will be $61,000 while the sheriff will be paid $80,225. According to County Board action taken last week, both positions will get 1.5 percent increases in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

While Sheriff Dennis Hillstead, who is retiring at the end of this year, urged a 2 percent increase for the new sheriff for each of the next four years, finance committee members recommended holding the position's pay at $80,225 for all four years.

Compared to adjacent and similar-size counties, the St. Croix sheriff's salary seems "quite adequate," said committee member Sharon Norton-Bauman.

She said the sheriffs' salaries in Pierce, Dunn, Chippewa and Polk counties range from $68,000 to $78,000 and the pay for the sheriff of Jefferson County, which is similar to St. Croix in several ways, is $75,000.

The County Board modified the finance committee's recommendation and voted to give the new sheriff increases of 1.5 percent for the last three years of the 4-year term.

The finance committee recommended that the clerk of court position, which pays $55,057 this year, be paid $64,000 next year -- an increase of about 16 percent.

But the full board overrode that recommendation.

Because of the way terms and the cycles for approving increases fall, this year Clerk of Court Cindy Campbell is getting almost $5,000 less than the county clerk, treasurer and register of deeds -- positions that have historically been considered comparable.

The work the clerk of court does is more complicated, less routine and requires more expertise and she supervises a larger staff than the other three officials, said Corporation Counsel Greg Timmerman, urging higher pay for the courts job.

"They take the position knowing what the wage is," said Supervisor Esther Wentz, who said she couldn't support a 16 percent increase.

"At some point we have to say enough is enough," added Supervisor Steve Hermsen, pointing out that a significant number of county residents are without jobs and delinquent tax rates are climbing.

The County Board must set salaries for elected officials before the earliest time for filing nomination papers for the office, in this case before June 1. Pay can't be changed during the four-year terms.

Elected officials, as well as other non-union county employees, pay 10 percent of their monthly health insurance premiums.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.

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