Iowa Legislature Ponders New Rules to Determine County Official’s Pay

(Radio Iowa) Four bills introduced in the Iowa legislature this year have been designed to set a new statewide policy for determining how much elected officials in Iowa’s 99 counties are paid, but lawmakers are still working out the details. Senator Mike Klimesh, a Republican from Spillville, says an alternative that may be debated in the Senate this week is still being drafted.

“We’re going to not allow counties to not have a compensation board. The supervisors must have a compensation board in the county, Klimesh says. “We’re going to make the county compensation board show their work.” Klimesh says it would involve showing base salaries for all county officials who are elected to their positions and how those salaries compare to pay for officials in counties of similar size. The Iowa House has already approved a bill that would let county supervisors dissolve compensation boards and make the salary decisions themselves. Representative Amy Nielsen, a Democrat from North Liberty, says the bill also forbids counties from reducing one elected official’s salary, while all the rest are increased.

“They could not be targeted for a reduction in pay for any retaliatory or political reasons,” Nielsen says. Compensation boards currently meet annually to make salary recommendations for each elected official in their county — the supervisors as well as the county attorney, county auditor, county treasurer and county sheriff. The supervisors may reduce the board’s recommendations, but current state law says they have to make the same percentage reduction for all officials.