The five commissioners representing Washington County residents declined to vote themselves a pay increase for 2014, but they agreed on 5 percent salary increases for the sheriff, county attorney and county administrator.
Commissioners, earning $52,713 apiece, haven’t increased their salaries since 2009. They voted unanimously to continue that trend, although their pay ranks below other metro counties that have seven commissioners. By comparison, Hennepin pays $100,379, Ramsey pays $84,048, Dakota pays $68,000 and Anoka pays $59,945.
Although commissioners said little about their own pay at their Dec. 12 meeting, they commended the county’s two elected public safety officials and the top staff administrator for exemplary work and said they deserved increases.
Their 2014 salaries will be:
• Sheriff Bill Hutton, $142,590, and Chief Deputy Dan Starry, $128,331, which is 90 percent of the sheriff’s salary. “His years of experience far exceed what most counties have with the county sheriff,” Commissioner Fran Miron said of Hutton.
• County Attorney Pete Orput, $142,590, and First Assistant Attorney Brent Wartner, $128,331, which is 90 percent of the attorney’s salary. The attorney’s executive assistant, Cathy Rochel, will receive $53,810. “I definitely value a strong county attorney who isn’t afraid to prosecute,” Commissioner Lisa Weik said.
• Administrator Molly O’Rourke, $154,989. “She put together a great atmosphere with all the department heads,” Commissioner Gary Kriesel said.
Compared with other metro counties, Hutton’s salary ranks second only to Hennepin County, where Sheriff Rich Stanek is paid $153,221, according to figures supplied by Washington County.
Orput ranks fourth in salary behind the Hennepin, Ramsey and Dakota county attorneys.
O’Rourke ranks fourth behind the same three counties’ administrators.
State law requires a County Board vote on salaries for certain county officials each December. □