PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County commissioners unanimously approved pay increases for county elected officials beginning in 2022 with the next election of the commission seat.
The commissioners approved the increase during their meeting Monday after District 3 Commissioner Greg Brotherton requested that it be taken off the consent agenda so it could be discussed. He later approved it with the other two commissioners.
The wage increases are to bring the county more in line with similar salaries being paid to counterparts in similarly sized counties in the state, commission documents said.
“Our employees have been underpaid for a long time,” said Chair Kate Dean on Monday.
“Whether that’s based on cost of living in Jefferson County — many people live outside Jefferson County for that very reason — or if it’s based on comparisons with even what the (City of Port Townsend) can pay or neighboring counties can pay,” she said.
“We’ve been totally behind the ball on that. So, what looks like a significant bump up is actually just starting to get us to parity.”
Also on Monday, the commissioners approved a 7.5 percent wage increase for Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and union exempt employees for 2021, with pay being retroactive from the first pay period of the year.
The three commissioner positions all will have an annual salary increase from 47 percent of the Superior Court judge’s salary to 50.78 percent of that salary.
That would go into effect after each position’s next election, according to commission documents.
The commissioners make $93,847 a year as of Thursday, said Carolyn Gallaway, clerk of the board.
With the increase, for their current salary, it would be a bump of about $7,548, raising the annual salary to about $101,395. However, if the state increases the Superior Court judge’s salary before the increase goes into effect, the commissioners’ salaries would also increase.
The first position that would have the new increased salary would be the District 3 seat, which is up for election in 2022.
Current commissioner Brotherton is planning to run for reelection for the seat, he said at Monday’s meeting.
The other salary increases include ones for the county assessor, auditor, clerk, treasurer, sheriff and prosecuting attorney beginning Jan. 1.
Except for the sheriff and prosecuting attorney, the other positions are paid the same salary. Those positions will have an increase from $93,852 per year to $101,395 per year, commission documents said.
The Jefferson County Sheriff will have an increase from $111,816 to $130,528, commission documents said.
The prosecuting attorney’s salary will increase from $167,724 to $177,212. However, the position is funded by both the state and the county, with the state paying 50 percent of the equivalent of what the Superior Court Judge’s salary is, commission documents said.
That means the county’s contribution to the prosecuting attorney’s annual salary will increase from $83,862 to $88,606 and the state will reimburse the county for the remaining $99,837.50 each year, commission documents said.
The commissioners’ discussion and more information on the increases can be found at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-WageIncreases.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at email@example.com.