A group of Linn County lawmakers is sponsoring a bill which would let county boards of supervisors vote to cut their pay.
Representative Nick Wagner, a Republican from Marion — which is in Linn County, is the bill’s primary sponsor. "It came from requests from constituents. In the past the Linn County Supervisors have said they couldn’t decrease their pay because of the state law," Wagner says, "so we went in and just decided to make that an option, to allow them to lower their pay."
Under current law, supervisors may either choose to accept the pay level recommended by a compensation commission or revert to their pay from the previous year. Controversy erupted in Linn County when supervisors indicated they’d accept the compensation board’s recommended salaries of $87,000 and last week supervisors voted to set their salaries at just over $70,000, but they had to declare themselves part-timers in order to cut the salary.
Wagner expects his bill to let supervisors vote, at any time, to cut their pay immediately to be considered by a subcommittee next week. "We’ve had pretty good response, that it is a good bill and is something that should be done, so I’m hopeful that it will move," Wagner says.
Wagner was a member of the Marion City Council for four years, and was paid an annual salary of $4,000. Some legislators want to give city council members the option to cut their salaries, too, as they’re limited by state law today in the same way county supervisors are. Wagner says during tough economic times, it makes sense to give city council members and county supervisors the authority to immediately cut their own pay.
Representative Natham Willems, a Democrat from Lisbon, is the only state representative from Linn County who is not backing Wagner’s bill on county supervisor salaries.