Editor’s note: The following is a news analysis of local elected officials’ salaries in Tooele County. Cited salary and benefits information was obtained from the most recent fiscal year submitted by the agency to the state’s website, transparent.utah.gov.
Most elected officials in Utah receive compensation for their part-time or full-time public service. Tooele County is no exception.
Salaries of part-time elected officials and board members in Tooele County range from $4,080 for school board members to $22,141 for members of the Tooele City Council.
Salaries for full-time officials in Tooele County and its municipalities range from $113,140 for the county attorney to $73,097 for a county commissioner in 2016.
According to Tooele City Council Chairman Steve Pruden, the pay is not the motivating source for public service.
“We have full-time jobs; we’re not in this for the money,” Pruden said. “Council members work irregular hours. The pay is compensation for time away from home and family.”
While pay for Tooele County School Board members is lower than the pay for members of other part-time elected bodies in the county, school board members are also eligible for the same health insurance coverage as the school district’s full-time employees.
For board members who opt into the full health insurance plan, their total benefits reach $17,000 — a figure much higher than the total benefits for other part-time elected officials in Tooele County.
The pattern of low salary accompanied by high benefits is also seen in similarly-sized school districts.
Tooele County School District’s average daily enrollment in 2017 was 14,223 students. The school district with the next highest average daily enrollment for 2017 was Cache County School District with 17,385. The school district with the next lowest average daily enrollment was Ogden City School District with 12,034 students.
School board members in Cache County School District were paid a salary of $4,200 and their benefits ranged from $452 to $13,768 in 2017.
In the Ogden City School District, the salary for board members ranged from $5,115 to $6,636, while their benefits ranged from $5,115 to $13,376.
Tooele City’s population in 2016 was estimated at 33,762, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services. The next largest city in Utah was Cottonwood Heights with a population of 34,825. The next smallest city was Springville with 33,044.
While the $22,141 salary for a Tooele City Council member is higher than the $14,780 paid to a council member in Cottonwood Heights or the $11,725 that Springville pays its city council, Pruden offers an explanation.
Tooele City Council members also serve as board members of the Tooele City Redevelopment Agency, which receives funds from property tax in development areas in the city. Part of the $22,141 paid to Tooele City Council members comes from the RDA.
“Our city council is very active as RDA board members,” Pruden said. “We have a lot of meetings as council members and RDA board members outside of the regular council meetings, often at irregular hours. Being on the city council is like a part-time job with city council members working an average of 20 to 25 hours per week.”
Benefits for the average Tooele City Council member run around $5,800. Benefits for council members in Cottonwood Heights run around $4,500. Typical benefits for a Springville City council member are $994.
“Some Tooele City Council members turn down benefits that they are eligible to receive,” said Pruden. “But to do so they receive them and then write a check to the city to pay them back.”
In Grantsville, city council members received a salary of $7,023 in 2017. Their benefits totaled $696 for the year.
Grantsville’s estimated 2016 population was 10,459. The next largest city was West Point with 10,548. The next smallest city was Cedar Hills with 10,374.
West Point paid its city council $5,340 in salary and $524 in benefits in 2017. Cedar Hills paid its city council an average of $7,314 with an average benefit of $579.
Both Tooele and Grantsville cities have full-time elected mayors who run the executive branch of their city government, without a paid city manager. The mayors in Tooele and Grantsville are also city administrators.
In 2017, Tooele City Mayor Pat Dunlavy was paid a salary of $95,502 and his benefits totaled $39,613.
Cottonwood Heights’ mayor was paid $22,256 in 2017, but the city has a city manager who was paid a salary of $147,775 along with $6,585 in paid leave, and a benefit package of $43,747.
Springville’s mayor was paid $15,030 in 2017, but the city also has a city administrator who was paid $145,202 with a benefit package totaling $58,748 in 2017.
The salary of current Tooele City Mayor Debbie Winn is $95,502, the same amount Dunlavy was paid.
Grantsville Mayor Brent Marshall was paid $78,712 in 2017. His benefits for 2017 totaled $37,708.
West Point and Cedar Hill’s mayors were paid $12,600 and $13,200 in 2017, respectively, however both cities employ a city manager.
West Point’s city manager was paid $106,317 in 2017. His benefit package totaled $43,602. Cedar Hill’s city manager was paid $106,318 in 2017 with a benefit package totaling $43,602.
The Tooele County Commission chairman was paid $77,225 in 2017. The other Tooele County commissioners were paid $73,97 each in 2017.
Finding a county with comparable population to Tooele County is difficult. With a population of 67,456 in 2017, the counties closest to Tooele in population were Box Elder and Iron Counties, with a population of 54,079 and 51,011, respectively.
The next largest county to Tooele County was Cache County with a population of 124,438.
Both Box Elder and Iron Counties are governed by a three-member commission, like Tooele County.
Box Elder County paid its county commission chairman $48,540 and its other two commissioners $45,228 in 2017. Iron County paid its county commissioners $51,474 in 2017.
While Box Elder and Iron counties are the closest counties in population to Tooele County, not only are their populations an average of 22 percent smaller than Tooele County, their budgets are also smaller than Tooele County’s budget.
Tooele County had a total revenue in 2016 of $57.2 million. Box Elder County’s 2016 revenue was $30.0 million while Iron County’s 2017 revenue was $32.4 million.
The Tooele County Commission raised its annual salary to $87,347 in 2017 to make it equal to the salary of other elected department heads.
When it comes to other elected officials, Tooele County paid the assessor, clerk/auditor, and recorder/surveyor $86,348 in 2016. It paid the treasurer $89,850, the sheriff $91,780, and the attorney $113,140.
In Box Elder County the assessor and clerk were paid $79,326 and the auditor, recorder, and treasurer $76,826 in 2017. The sheriff was paid $84,723 and the attorney $112,660.
Iron County paid its elected officials $74,506 in 2017, except the sheriff and attorney, who were paid $80,579 and $105,193, respectively.
Each commission, council and board sets its salaries annually. The County Commission sets the annual salary for county elected officials by resolution annually. Each city council sets the salary for their city’s mayor.