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Two commissioners decline 4% pay raises

Two Clay County commissioners say cost-of-living pay raises for commissioners are fine, but not for them.

By a 4-0 vote, the commission on Tuesday approved the 2009 tax levy and budget and set base salaries for elected officials.

Jerry Waller and Kevin Campbell said they would decline the pay raises.

Commissioner Ben Brunsvold was absent, but he has voted against tax increases in the past and has indicated he would have voted against the 2009 budget and levy.

Commissioners approved a 4 percent cost-of-living adjustment for nonunion county employees and set elected officials' salaries:

- County Attorney Brian Melton, $105,906.84.

- County Auditor/Treasurer Lori Johnson, $99,307.78.

- County Recorder J. Bonnie Rehder, $67,396.78.

- County Sheriff Bill Bergquist, $96,964.40.

- Commissioner Jon Evert and incoming Commissioners Grant Weyland and Wayne Ingersoll, $25,701.26.

- Commissioners Campbell and Waller, $25,223.90. Their salaries are lower because they declined the increase.

Commissioners approved a 2009 tax levy of $22.4 million, an increase of 5.53 percent, said County Administrator Vijay Sethi. The 2008 tax levy of $21.2 million was a 5.3 percent increase from 2007.

The 2009 levy will pay for road and bridge work, building improvements, revenue, debt retirement, and money for the social services fund, Sethi said.

The levy shows a 2.8 percent growth in the county's tax base, Sethi said. The actual net effect on individual households will vary, but should be less than the 5.53 percent, he said.

The rising cost of health care, employee wages and fuel are reasons for the tax levy increase, Sethi said.

Sethi's annual evaluation is set for Dec. 23, which is when the commissioners may set his salary for the year.