FOREST CITY | The Winnebago County Board of Supervisors has approved pay increases ranging from 3 to 6 percent for elected county officials.
The board voted 3-0 on Jan. 2 to accept the County Compensation Board's recommendation for a 6-percent increase for the county attorney, a 5-percent increase for the sheriff, a 4-percent raise for the supervisors and a 3-percent raise for the treasurer, auditor and recorder.
This means beginning July 1, salaries for those officials will be $94,504 for the county attorney, $76,716 for the sheriff, $32,284 for the supervisors and $59,811 for the treasurer, auditor and recorder.
During discussion of the compensation board's recommendation, Supervisor Mike Stensrud asked what the justification was for giving the county attorney a 6-percent raise.
Supervisor Bill Jensvold said no raise was given for that position last year.
In early 2018, when the supervisors voted on the raises for elected officials for the current fiscal year, then-County Attorney Adam Sauer was in his last few weeks of the job because he had been appointed as an associate district judge.
Since Sauer's replacement hadn't been appointed yet, the compensation board recommended not giving a raise to the county attorney for the 2018-19 fiscal year. The supervisors agreed.
In February 2018, the supervisors appointed Kelsey Beenken, who had been serving as a magistrate for Hancock County, to fill the position.
Since Sauer was in the last year of his term, Beenken had to win in the general election in November to remain county attorney. She ran unopposed and won.
During the Jan. 2 meeting, Beenken said the compensation board compared what the county is paying her compared to what 17 other counties of comparable population size that also have full-time county attorneys are paying.
She said she is currently making $5,000 less than her counterparts in the other 17 counties.
Stensrud said the supervisors' job is to make sure the county is run as cheaply and efficiently as possible.
"It has nothing to do with personalities," he said. "This isn't personal and I hope you don't take it as personal."
Jensvold said there's not a large pool of people with the skills elected officials need to have, and the county is competing with the private sector for those individuals.