The Cache County Council tabled a discussion about increasing officials’ wages, including their own, during a regular meeting Tuesday.
While some members expressed concern over fair compensation for time and encouraging people to run for office, the council was generally hesitant.
Ordinance 2021-25 would raise the annual pay for council members from $12,925 to $16,000 and from $14,725 to $18,000 for the council chair. The increases came to the council from the Compensation Committee after being asked in 2020. County Executive David Zook also stated that he observed a lot of extra work put in by the chair and that the position should be considered for an increase.
“It’s a very uncomfortable position to be in, but the history of Cache County elected officials when it comes to the council (wage increases) is zero or very little,” said Council Member Gordon Zilles on Tuesday. “Now all of a sudden, if you look at the compensation for County Council members, et cetera, we’re so far behind everyone else in comparison.”
Many council members mentioned the uncomfortableness of having to increase wages, even though Cache County is one of the lowest-paying counties in the state.
Counties are ranked by class depending on population. Cache County, with a population of roughly 132,000, is considered a third-class county.
Third-class Wasatch County paid council members roughly $29,000 in 2021. Council members in Rich County, a sixth-class county with a population of about 3,000, made roughly $23,000 in 2020.
Fourth-class Morgan County council members made about $24,000 a year.
Council Member Paul Bourp shared thoughts that echoed his opinion on increasing wages back in 2020 as well.
“You ran for the office, you knew what it was. Whether it’s out of sync with the other counties … I’m not comfortable getting into a position and voting myself a raise. I think everyone else ran for the office knowing what it was too,” he said.
Borup also added that, if possible, he would choose not to increase his salary if others in the council voted to do so. In 2020, Borup voted against the wage increase for the annual budget and against the recommended 3% cost-of-living wage.
Council Member David Erickson expressed his need to look over the numbers more and examine it thoroughly because he felt increases weren’t fair to newer employees for little time and little service.
“I want to know how the elected officials that we’re talking about here — how do they feel? Will they come and speak individually into that microphone and tell us how they feel about their wages going up like that, like we have to?” he asked.
Zilles proposed in 2020 to raise the salary by the cost-of-living increase plus an additional $3,000 for a grand total of $15,925. His motion failed.
“My advice to the council for the future is you ought to be fair to yourself,” Zilles said on Tuesday. “I know every one of you puts in lots and lots and lots of hours of time and sometimes it’s time in your business or your situation that is very trying on what you do for a living.”
Zilles is not running for reelection for his seat in 2022. He has been a council member for the past 16 years.
Council Member Barbara Tidwell echoed those thoughts.
“I’d like to add, too, that this is really hard, because yes, we all agreed that service to the community is the biggest portion of this, but I also think we need to think to the future,” she said.
Tidwell also stated how difficult it is already to get younger people to run for council seats and although pay should not be a main part of why someone runs, it needs to be taken into account.
Council Member Nolan Gunnell agreed with Tidwell.
“We don’t do this for the money, but you’ve got to consider it. … I’m here serving, but at the same time it has to be equitable,” he said.
The discussion has been tabled until the next meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 14.
In addition to a proposed raise for council members, county officials would also have their wages increased. Salaries can be amended and adjusted by the County Council if necessary. Suggested salary increases are listed below.
—County Executive/Surveyor: $129,019
—County Assessor: $107,476
—County Attorney: $146,467
—County Clerk/Auditor: $104,826
—County Recorder: $99,552
—County Sheriff: $113,640
—County Treasurer: $99,575