Commissioners approve pay raises; Bauer named 2008 chair

The Kitsap County Commissioners approved a pay increase for elected officials that will bring their salaries in line with other county employees.

The vote was not unanimous, as South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel opposed the motion because of recent budget cutbacks.

“There are many people who have sacrificed their jobs,” Angel said. “We are looking at another $2 million shortfall next year. So I think this is a sacrifice that we can make.”

Angel was overruled by North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer and Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown, who said the pay raises would prevent the politicalization of salaries.

The pay raises are tied to increases in superior court judge salaries. They represent a 6.8 percent increase to begin on January 1 for the auditor, assessor, clerk, coroner, sheriff and treasurer. The county commissioner raises will kick in for those elected in 2008, as commissioners are not allowed to vote on their own salaries.

Bauer said the salary adjustments will enable the county to attract first-class candidates for public office.

“These are demanding jobs,” Bauer said. “If we start reducing compensations we will have trouble attracting really qualified people. The only reason we were able to balance the budget this year was because we had a partnership with innovative and creative people.

“This action may raise some eyebrows,” he said. “But it is what we need in order to stay competitive.”

“Elected officials and non-elected officials alike have all shared in the sacrifices and budget cutbacks needed for 2008,” said County Clerk Dave Peterson. “The budget will not be made whole by treating six people differently from the other 1200 county employees.”

Directly following the split vote the commissioners were unanimous (and harmonious) in the appointment of Bauer to serve as board chair in 2008. Bauer, who has been in office only five months, follows Brown’s own short tenure as chair.

Brown, who took over the job after the resignation of Chris Endresen in June.

“It hasn’t been a full year for me,” Brown said at Monday night’s regular meeting. “But I’ve had enough for this go-round.”

During the ensuing mutual admiration exercise, Brown lauded Bauer for his ability to capably fill Endresen’s shoes, while Bauer commended Brown for a job well done. This prompted applause from Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners Executive Director Vivian Henderson.

Angel had the final word on the matter.

“It’s all yours,” she said to Bauer.

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