WATERLOO — Black Hawk County’s elected officials will get 4 percent pay hikes this year.
Members of the county Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Thursday without discussion to approve the raises effective July 1 for the sheriff, county attorney, auditor, treasurer, recorder and themselves.
Board chairman Craig White voted against the pay increases which had been recommended by the volunteer county compensation board in December.
State law allows the supervisors to either accept the compensation board’s proposal or reduce the raises by an equal percentage across the board.
Compensation board members had noted Black Hawk County’s elected officials are paid less than their counterparts in other metropolitan Iowa counties.
Black Hawk County ranks fifth in population among Iowa counties. But the supervisors rank 18th in pay; the county attorney ranks 10th; the recorder ranks eighth; and the auditor, treasurer and sheriff each rank ninth in pay this year.
Board members also voted 4-1 to approve 3 percent raises in next year’s budget for nonbargaining employees, or those not covered under collective bargaining agreements. The raises mirror those going to unionized county workers under their contracts.
Supervisor Tom Little voted against the nonbargaining pay raises after his motion to exclude part-time employees — notably election workers — failed to win approval.
Finally, board members voted 4-1 to approve “equity” increases for seven nonbargaining employees deemed to be underpaid compared to union employees they supervise.
Little voted against those raises, which amount to about $20,000. He proposed instead spending $164,000 to give all nonbargaining employees another 3 percent raise above the 3 percent raise approved earlier in the meeting; no other supervisor supported the move.
Human Resources Director Deb Bunger had previously noted the equity issues arose because union workers were getting additional pay step increases for years of service along with the across-the-board pay raises through their contracts.
Nonbargaining workers did not get the step increases. Over time, it put the overall pay scale out of whack and opened the county to potential discrimination claims.
“With pay inequities, if somebody does bring a claim we want to make sure we’re on the right side of that claim,” Bunger said.
“When you have people in the same pay class, you want to make sure you don’t have somebody whose been here 15 years making less than somebody who just started,” she added. “It becomes a risk for us if they’re in a protected class.”
The wage rate discussions were part of the annual budget process expected to wrap up with a public hearing March 6.