The Tooele County Council adopted mid-year salary adjustments for non-council county elected officials during their June 21 meeting.
Collectively the salary increases for the eight elected officials will add $57,032 in salary expenses to the annual pay for elected officials. The salary amounts in the resolution are for an annual salary. The actual increase in salary expenses for 2022 will be less than the $57,032 amount as the new pay amount will not start until July 1.
The County Council adopted the resolution to change elected department head salaries after three public readings and a public hearing.
The salary increases are part of a larger salary adjustment for all county employees as the result of an independent compensation study that was completed in March 2022.
When the county council approved the 2022 budget in December 2021, they socked away $1 million to cover anticipated salary increases as the result of a compensation study that they knew would be completed in the first half of 2022.
The study was completed by Jamestown, Tennessee-based McGrath Human Resources Group.
Victoria McGrath, CEO of the McGrath Human Resources Group, presented the results of the study during the March 15 work session of the County Council.
She said the study methodology included interviewing administration, human resources, department heads and managers. She asked questions about internal issues, job descriptions and gathered compensation data from other public organizations to compare information.
The rate analysis for the county was found to be 53% under market, meaning employees are not being paid appropriately to their counterparts, McGrath said.
McGrath included elected department heads in her study.
The County Council adopted a new salary schedule with new pay ranges and salary classifications for all county jobs during their April 19 meeting, but they did not include elected department heads.
The County Council formed a study committee for elected department head salaries consisting of three elected department heads and two council members, according to Tooele County Auditor Alison McCoy.
The committee looked at Tooele County elected department head salaries compared to counties of a similar size and duties, McCoy said.
Comparisons of Tooele County with other county officials is not easy. Some counties combine different offices such as clerk and auditor. In some counties with a manager or executive, the manager or executive is the budget officer instead of the auditor. In Summit County the elected executive is also the county surveyor.
Population wise, Tooele County sits in a unique position at an estimated 2022 population of 79,069. The next largest county in population is Cache County with 133,956. The next smallest county is Iron County with a population of 61,322.
The committee conducted their analysis and found that elected department heads in Tooele County were below pay for counties with similar size departments and duties, McCoy said.
The county’s study committee’s recommendations ended up being very similar to the salary proposed by the McGrath study with a few exceptions, according to McCoy.
McGrath suggested the county treasurer and clerk should be paid less than other elected department heads. The county committee decided that all elected department heads, other than sheriff and attorney, should be paid the same.
The McGrath study also included “decompression” pay for elected officials — a human resources strategy of placing pay for employees within the same pay grade at different pay levels within their pay range based on years of experience.
Tooele County attorney Scott Broadhead, who served on the county committee, said the committee rejected the idea of paying elected officials more simply because they have been elected more times.
McCoy also said the committee decided to pay the recorder/surveyor an extra $500 per month due to the extra responsibility of combining the two offices. State code allows for increasing the salary of a combined elected department head by 1.5 times. The $500 is less than the allowable 1.5 times, she said.
When the new compensation chart for non-elected officials was adopted, it was estimated that the total cost to the county would be around $900,000. With the $57,032 annual cost increase for elected department heads, the combined salary adjustments should be within the $1 million set aside in the adopted budget to fund the salary study’s recommendations.
Council member Scott Wardle pointed out that council members were not getting an increase in salary. He also stressed that the salary study had been completed by an outside agency and was based on position, not the person.