Barry County Commissioners and other colunty elected officials, will have their pay decided by others after they voted, 5 to 2 to set up a County Officer’s Compensation Commission to decide salaries for elected officials, other than judges. The new commission will be a seven-member independent body appointed by Commission Chairman Ben Geiger from a list of names submitted by the other commissioners. The commissioners would need to ratify Geiger’s choices, he said.
Determinations by the compensation commission would go into effect unless a super majority of the commission voted against it. If county commissioners do not act, the salaries would be effective in the first odd-numbered year after the committee’s determination. In answer to questions, Geiger said the commission members would get paid only mileage, not per diems, would set their own time table for considering salary increases and their own criteria; they do not have to follow the recommendations of the Segal Waters compensation study.
Commissioners Vivian Conner and Heather Wing voted no, with Conner saying she was elected to make decisions. “I’m not afraid to look at the compensation of elected officials and vote on those decisions,” she said. “I don’t want to delegate the process…I really feel we need to leave it in our hands. That’s what constituents want us to do.”
“I would just as soon not decide my own salary,” Commissioner Dan Parker said.
Barry County had a compensation committee until about 2003, when it was abandoned in favor of commissioners setting salaries. The new committee members could not be a member or employee of the legislative, judicial or executive branch of any level of government, or a member of that person’s immediate family, Geiger said.
Elected Barry County officials are the clerk, prosecutor, sheriff, register of deeds, treasurer, drain commissioner, surveyor and commissioners.
Also to do with salaries, in a memo to other Barry County Commissioners dated April 28, Geiger notified them that a recent action granting wage increases to the Barry County Courthouse Association employees, general fund department heads and non-represented (GFDHNR) employees in line with a compensation study, also would mean raises for Administrator Michael Brown.
“While the County Administrator has a separate employment contract, Michael was included in the list of GFDHNR employees that were granted salary increases effective May 1, 2017 through 2020, though the current agreement with the County Administrator expires December 31, 2019,” Geiger said.
Brown’s contract calls for salary of $103,334.40 annually in 2017 and any further increases or decreases in salary in 2017, 2018 and 2019, would be based on increases or decreases of other county managers, he said.
Brown was listed with the other GFDHNR employees approved for salary increases “off scale” but a corresponding off scale pay scale for the county administrator was not attached, Geiger said.
However, the county administrators position was one of the job titles that was compared in the study. Based on the comparison, the overall market maximum for the County Administrator’s position was $124,105, he said.
Following the same strategy used with the other employees, the market max in 2015 would be the 2020 target and salary adjustments for the administrator are as follows, he said: “Effective May 1, 2017, the salary will be adjusted for a 2017 annual salary of $106,314.95; effective 1/1/18 an annual salary of $113,201.10 and effective 1/1/19, an annual salary of $118,657.55.” //
Commissioners contracted for a classification and compensation study in September 2015 with Segal Waters Consulting Group for $92,500. In the compensation part of the study, Barry County employee’s pay was compared to four geographical neighbors, Kent, Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Eaton counties. Based on population and taxable values, Montcalm, Ionia, Cass and St, Joseph counties were selected. Two cities, Kentwood and Kalamazoo were also compared. They were all asked to identify pay rates for 50 job titles, or benchmarks.
The commission also delayed approving the replacement of the Gun Lake Dam on Marsh Road in Orangeville Township by Land and Resources Engineering until May 23, to give county Attorney Doug Kelly time to do what Conner called “a little wordsmithing” on the agreement language.