Clallam County considers officials’ salaries

Clallam County elected official salaries are in line with other counties, commissioners were told, but they are considering revising the figure upon which salary increases are calculated to include non-medical benefit costs to the county and revisiting it every two or so years so the total cost can be tracked more easily.

The county commissioners on May 1 reviewed a proposed resolution and plan to look at a revised version at their next regular meeting, set for 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 9, in the commissioners’ meeting room (Room 160) at Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.

Commissioner Randy Johnson said the resolution should include both salaries and benefits to reflect total cost to the county. Human resources deputy director Tom Reyes said the resolution would focus on total compensation.

Brenda Wenzl, a human resources analyst, told commissioners that Clallam is in alignment with other counties, with one county setting salaries at 51 percent of that of the Superior Court judge, and several less, with many at 46 percent and one at 43 percent.

It had been five years since salaries had been raised, according to prosecuting attorney Mark Nichols.

“If the goal is to stay current and competitive, this should be reviewed regularly,” he said. “Different counties do it differently.”

The commissioners are authorized to establish the salaries for elected officials except for District Court and Superior Court judges, whose salaries are set by the Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials. The commission was established with a constitutional amendment (House Joint Resolution 49) approved by the voters on Nov. 4, 1986.

“We should have realistic standards to reflect the duties and attract and retain people,” Nichols said. “The citizen commission has no oversight of benefits. That’s the commissioners.”

Commissioner Mark Ozias said it was important that the county have competitive salaries for elected officials, and commissioner Mike French said the county should ensure people are compensated fairly.

The revised resolution would cover compensation for the assessor, auditor, county commissioners, community development director, prosecuting attorney, sheriff and treasurer.

The increase from 50 percent to 55 percent of the judge’s salary for most positions was to account for benefits.

The state and county split the cost of the salaries of Superior Court judges and the prosecuting attorney. The county pays all of District Court judges’ salaries, according to a staff memo.

In the revised resolution, compensation for the assessor, auditor, commissioners, community development director and treasurer would be set at 55 percent of a superior court judge’s salary, which will be $217,391 as of July 1.

The staff memo included benefits in addition to salary, so it did not have salary amounts outlined.

The compensation for the prosecuting attorney would be set at 95 percent of a superior court judge’s salary. It is now set at 89 percent.

The increase to 95 percent for the prosecuting attorney was to recognize the position’s duties and qualifications as similar to those of a superior court judge, according to Wenzl.

The compensation for the sheriff would be set at 72 percent of a superior court judge’s salary.

Increases would be on the same schedule that a citizens’ commission has set for superior court judges, with the exception of the commissioners’ raises.

A county commissioner’s salary can’t be increased or decreased after an election or during the person’s term of office.

Salary increases would take effect on Jan. 1, 2024, for District 1 (Sequim area, currently held by Ozias), Jan. 1, 2025, for District 2 (Port Angeles area, currently held by Johnson) and Jan. 1, 2027, for District 3 (West End, currently held by French).