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County weighs salaries for elected officials

The Douglas County Board considers setting salaries for the next sheriff and clerk of courts when it meets March 15.

Douglas County's Administration Committee approved salary increases over the next four years, which go into effect when the sheriff and clerk of courts take office in 2019, following the outcome of the Nov. 6 election.

The clerk of courts would receive a 2 percent increase annually over the next four years, increasing from $61,905 annually this year to $67,008 in 2022.

The next sheriff would receive a 2 percent increase annually, plus a $5,500 lump sum payment in 2019. The goal behind the lump sum payment is to place the sheriff's annual salary above the department's second-in-command, the chief deputy. Without the adjustment the chief deputy would earn more than $3,000 a year over the boss.

The sheriff's salary would increase from $78,087 currently to $85,149 in 2019; each subsequent year the increase would be 2 percent, going to to $90,361 in 2022.

"The sheriff's salary has fallen behind the chief deputy; that doesn't happen in any other department," said Anne Doucette, acting county administrator. "I'm proposing a one-time payment to put the sheriff's salary above the chief deputy."

Doucette presented three options:one-time payments of $3,500, $5,500 and $7,500. She recommended the $5,500 option because it's one pay grade above the chief deputy.

The committee accepted the recommendation.

"This is always difficult because you don't know what's going to happen in four years," said Supervisor Doug Finn, a member of the panel. However, he said the important thing is the county won't fall behind. Projections show the sheriff's salary will remain above that of the chief deputy over the next four years.

Sheriff Tom Dalbec said he's had conversations with County Board Chairman Mark Liebaert and Doucette over the last few months, but doesn't know if the salary increase will affect him yet.

"I still haven't fully decided if I'm going to run again ... I still don't know; I have until May to make my mind up," Dalbec said.

"It's not the person there now," said Supervisor Pat Ryan. She said it is the position the panel is considering.

The sheriff's salary approved by the committee puts Douglas County closer to the mid-range of salaries for comparable counties. It's currently 22nd of 27 counties.

Under Wisconsin law, the salaries must be set before petitioning begins for the upcoming election.

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