Decision on county wages taken under advisement

14_mark0902NICE JOB  — Mark Gage receives a special certificate of appreciation for going the ‘extra mile’ and doing volunteer work out the ball fields without being asked. He was presented the certificate at last week’s regular council meeting. I-O Photo by Buck Traxler


After hearing the pros and cons of accepting a pay increase for the FY-2011-2012, the county commissioners took the information presented at a public hearing under advisement on Thursday.

By law, county governments are required to appoint  a compensation board to prepare  a pay schedule for the elected officials for the succeeding fiscal year.

The board is comprised of the county commissioners, the elected department heads and two voting citizens, in this case, Dan Majerus of Stockman Bank and John McFarland from the Conrad Building Center.


In addition to the board, a worksheet was presented by Clerk and Recorder Janice Hoppes showing salary comparisons to other counties as well as the City of Conrad and the Clerk of the Conrad School district and other demographics of the counties.


Also discussed at the hearing was the county contribution to employees’ health insurance premium and the potential for a permissive levy if the county were to increase its contribution to the employee health insurance coverage, as well as the potential for non-tax revenue.

The costs-of-living adjustment (COLA) for governments has been set at 1.6 percent for FY-2011-12.

The county will see a decrease in the experience factor of the workers’ compensation insurance rates and employees will see a decrease in their portion of the health insurance premium.

If wages are frozen at the current amounts, employees on the county health insurance plan will see an increase in their net pay due to the premium decrease.

The county will pay approximately $9,000 less in Worker’s Comp rates.

It was noted that if wages are frozen, the sheriff’s deputies will not see an increase in their wage nor longevity and FY-2011-12 will not count toward their years in calculating future longevity.

Both the Clerk and Recorder Hoppes and County Treasurer Jeanne Moon each requested an additional $2,000.

The legislature, in 2005, passed a bill allowing Clerk and Recorders to request an additional $2,000 for election administration duties. A similar bill was passed for county treasurers in 2007, allowing them to request an additional $2,000.

The members of the compensation board would like to recommend a 2-3 percent increase in the wage, however the finances of the county cannot support that amount.

After further discussion, Majerus moved to strongly recommend to the commissioners an increase of up to 1.5 percent for elected officials for FY-2011-12.

The commissioners took the matter of compensation under advisement.

In other business, a regular meeting followed the public hearing. The commissioners approved a resolution which  approved the DUI Task Force existence and mission statement.

The Task Force is made up of a diverse cross section of the community which includes citizens, government officials, law enforcement, business, health professionals and prevention specialists.

Another resolution was passed and adopted that Pondera County will pay $400 for the interment of a veteran and $100 (up from $70) for reimbursement for shipping and placing of a headstone on the veteran’s grave.

In this last session, the Montana legislature increased the amount allowed for veteran interment costs from $250 to an amount not to exceed $500.

The commissioners also approved the Nutrition and Physical Activity (NAPA) grant program agreement.

The county will receive $15,000 to provide obesity prevention services to its residents from July to June 30, 2012.

The commissioners also  approved an energy audit of county buildings.

They were presented with a proposal from the National Center for Appropriate Technology on behalf of NorthWestern Energy to conduct a business partner’s energy audit of the courthouse, the new community center, road shops in Conrad and Valier, and the weed department shop.

There is no cost to the county to participate in the audit. The proposal was approved.

The county, with some exceptions, meets every Wednesday at 10 a.m. in their office to conduct county business.

The public is always encouraged to and invited to attend these public meetings, to participate or just view your government at work.