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Salary Boost for Ramsey Commissioners, Tax Hike for Ramsey County

The Ramsey County Board of Commissioners voted 5-1 Tuesday to pay themselves an annual salary of more than $92,000.

The nearly 3 percent salary boost will increase county board members’ salaries from $90,081 to $92,423 and the county board chair’s salary from $92,898 to $95,313.

Board members told the Pioneer Press they “strive to keep their salary increases in step with those of the county’s largest public employee unions, in part to avoid large ‘catch-up’ increases in future years, as they’ve done in the past.”

But not all commissioners felt it was necessary to give themselves a raise. Commissioner Janice Rettman cast the sole dissenting vote, stating the board is already paid enough. Commissioner Blake Huffman was absent.

“We’ve reached the upper limits, and I just can’t do it,” she [Rettman] said.

Commissioner Jim McDonough, who voted in favor of the pay increase, adamantly defended the board’s decision.

Boardofcommissioners-web

“This is always hard,” said County Commissioner Jim McDonough. “We’re one of the few (county boards) that have to actually do its own salary increases, and we have to do it by our charter, and we have to do it by the process in our charter.… There are people out there that think that we should do these jobs for free.”

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approved a 2.5 percent pay increase for 2017, bumping its maximum board member salary up to $110,796. Salaries for Dakota County commissioners increased 3.5 percent to $77,450 and Anoka County commissioners’ salaries were boosted from $63,614 to $65,522. In Washington County, the commissioners denied themselves a pay raise for 2017. Their salaries of $52,713 have remained unchanged since 2009.

There’s no set formula to determine county officials’ salaries. But there’s push back by some against the higher salary increases because county commissioners are considered part-time employees. This is how the Association of Minnesota Counties describes the position:

For most commissioners, the office of county commissioner is a part-time job. Although the salary is consistent with this provision, the actual time spent on commission duties may seem like a full-time job. The number of hours per day or week varies widely depending on your county and the number of committees or organizations you elect to get involved with as a commissioner.

Along with the salary boost, the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners also decided to double the county’s sales tax for public transit.

Just like the pay raise, the quarter-cent increase passed 5 to 1 — with Commissioner Rettman opposing the tax hike.

The tax will go toward paying for public transit projects (particularly, light-rail expansion) throughout the county.

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