The Tooele County Commission voted Tuesday 2-1 to obscenely increase their annual pay from about $70,000 to almost $90,000, not including benefits. They insist that this is to make the pay equal to the work they do and provide parity with other elected County officers. They argue that this is necessary to “attract better candidates” for their jobs.
Better candidates (and voters) would do well to remember that only a decade ago, the GOP-nominated commissioners lost their party’s re-nomination because they were seen as doing too little work for “full-time pay”—the same pay that these commissioners just increased to make “full-time.” Their GOP replacements campaigned on the promise of “full-time work for full-time pay.” (SL Tribune, Oct 30, 2006.) These same commissioners then went on to lead the county to the brink of bankruptcy, laying off hundreds of our neighbors, reducing services to the community, wasting hundreds of thousands of tax dollars, and reducing the number of elected officers in an apparent attempt to get rid of one that disagreed with their actions. Then, in order to bail the county out of its financial woes, they raised property taxes 66%, and levied even more taxes on the unincorporated areas such as Stansbury Park, Lake Point and Erda. To raise one’s wages in light of the past decade of financial mismanagement is fiscally irresponsible, to say nothing of fiscally conservative.
Better candidates should also recognize that the requirements for the job of County Commissioner are significantly less than those for the Assessor, Attorney, or Sheriff, and comparing the Commissioner pay with those positions is folly. Better candidates will worry less about being paid what others are paid and more about bringing more economic growth to the county, where the median household income of $61,000 is less than they were being paid before this self-serving raise.
Better candidates know that they should not apply for the job because of the pay and benefits package. As with any elected position, it is a temporary job, not a career.
The Tooele County Democratic Party is accepting applications from better candidates so that we may one day soon, have better commissioners.