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Bill aims to change the way these people are paid

Getting PaidIf a bill in the Iowa Senate finds its way to becoming law, it will completely change the way many public officials in the state are paid – or least how much they receive.

Senate File 102, authored by Sen. Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale) aims to overhaul the manner in which county elected officials’ salaries are determined. Currently, that is partly the duty of an unelected board in each county, whose members are selected by the very public officials for whom they are to set salaries.

Compensation boards meet once a year to set the salaries of all the elected officials in their counties. By extension, those salaries impact the salaries of the appointed deputies of each elected official, as well. Each board member lobbies the remaining board members for a percent increase in pay for his or her elected official.

Once the board as a whole agrees to a list of salary increases for the county’s elected officials, it is then presented to the County Board of Supervisors, which may do one of two things. It may:

  • approve the recommendations as submitted, or
  • approve the recommendations with an across-the-board percentage decrease.

The process is open to abuse and is oftentimes rife with “backroom wheeling and dealing” between the supervisors – who are represented on the compensation boards – and other elected officials. SF 102 would abolish the compensation boards and instead require the boards of supervisors to adopt new salaries for the county elected officials by act in a public meeting.

The Iowa State Association of Counties is opposed to the bill. The Iowa State Association of Assessors, the City of Cedar Rapids, the Linn County Board of Supervisors, the Urban County Coalition, and the Polk County Board of Supervisors have all filed lobbyist statements that they are “undecided” on the proposed legislation.