Bourbon County Commissioners are trying to close the gap in wages for its’ elected officials, according to chairman Lynne Oharah.
Recently the commission raised four elected officials earnings with a combined total of $46,000.
At the Dec. 17, 2019 county commission meeting Ohara made a motion to approve a salary resolution for elected officials effective Dec. 15, 2019, according to commission minutes. This raised the clerk and treasurer’s salary to $47,248 annually, the register of deeds to 44,821 and the sheriff’s salary to $60,000. Commissioner Jeff Fisher seconded and all commissioners approved.
Ohara then made a motion approving a wage resolution for Bourbon County employees changing the following: the salary for the correctional center captain, the emergency preparedness director and the deputy county appraiser were raised to $35,568 annually to comply with the U.S. Dept. Of Labor standards for salaried employees. A Maintenance 5 position was added at a rate of $17.47 per hour. Commissioner Nick Ruhl seconded and all were in favor of those changes. The economic development director’s salary was changed to $70,000 a year on the same resolution.
Ohara made a motion to approve changing her salary to $70,000. He said that if Bourbon County gets an administrative fee from Phase 2 of the Healthy Bourbon County Grant then part of the $70,000 salary would be subsidized from the grant, Fisher seconded this motion, Ruhl voted against this motion, and the motion passed.
The following is an interview with Bourbon County Commissioner Lynn Oharah.
He started with a history of the raises.
“In 2015, Sheriff Martin contracted an agency to do a wage study to compare Bourbon County wages with other comparable counties because he thought there was a large wage disparity between Bourbon County employees and other like counties,” Commissioner Oharah said. “The county commissioners also accessed Kansas county wage information from the ks.gov website. The results indicated that Bourbon County wages were significantly behind our peers. The commissioners resolved to address these wage disparities and devised a plan to increase FTE (Full Time equivalent) positions first and address the next positions that had the most wage disparity, which happened to be the elected officials. Along with this effort we wanted to incentivize employees to continue working for the county and we did this by approving a $100 per year of service longevity pay increase.”
“This position was initially created to see how the position could help the county,” Oharah said. “It was created with a minimum of 20 hours of work per week at $35,000 annual salary and we would look at the performance and scope to see if we needed to increase the hours and wages.”
“Our economic developer has been a great asset and for the first six months spent a lot of time helping get the Bourbon County Ambulance Service up and running along with the other duties.”
“Since then all Bourbon County businesses and government entities have been contacted and surveyed to address their needs and identify what’s important to them. Also, new businesses have been guided through the process of starting a business, grants have been written, the County NRP program has been implemented and coordinated under economic development. Meetings and plans regarding healthcare are ongoing with economic development highly involved. This is just naming a few projects that are ongoing and the time spent well exceeds what was required.”