EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) --
Lane County Commissioners, the county administrator and county counsel are collectively saying no to a proposed pay scale change and raise for the two top-ranking employees.
Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday, January 29 to keep County Counsel Stephen Dingle's pay exactly the same and to take no action in changing County Administrator Liane Richardson's current pay.
The compensation debate started late last week when a Board of Commissioners public meeting agenda was released to the public. One of the items on the agenda was a proposal for pay scale changes for both Dingle and Richardson. Commissioners may only discuss compensation of these two employees in a public meeting.
The pay scale changes were initially proposed by Lane County's Human Resource department as part of contract negotiations. Stephen Dingle was just recently appointed as the County Counsel, replacing District Attorney Alex Gardner who did the work for the last year. As a new appointee, Dingle does not have a contract for the position. The County is attempting get Dingle to sign a contract to help retain him as an employee.
Meanwhile, Richardson's contract and salary negotiations are reviewed annually. Many county employees are on pay scales with 'step' increases. Currently, Richardson's contact does not have a series of steps but rather annual salary negotiations. According to Lane County Human Resources, the proposal was an effort to “provide consistency for future compensation and budgeting purposes”.
The proposed contracts from the Human Resources department were also made based on market value, analyzing the pay for similar positions in Clackamas, Deschutes, Jackson, Marion and Washington counties. Both proposed contracts would have bumped up the pay scales for both Richardson and Dingle by about $20,000 a year each.
However, market value was just one of the many factors the commissioners were to consider with the proposal.
Several commissioners apologized for the fiasco on Tuesday, saying that the pay reassessment was never a done deal. Commissioner Jay Bozievich expressed that the request for data on market value was just part of the research that the Board wanted to see, not an automatic implementation.
Commissioner Faye Stewart spoke to NewsSource 16 on Tuesday about the proposal. Stewart says he opposed the proposal and will continue to in “these economic times".
"To bring somebody up to a higher pay schedule and ask others to take concessions and our citizens are hurting economically in their lives, is just unconscionable and it shouldn't have even been discussed because we need to be building trust and the citizens need to have faith in us that we're making the right decision,” said Stewart.
Both Dingle and Richardson also informed the Board of Commissioner as well that they did not want any part of the change in compensation. For now, both have agreed to keep their current compensation. Dingle makes around $145,000 a year. Richardson makes around $152,000 a year.
The Board of Commissioners is the only body that can make any changes to the county administrator and the county counsel's pay.