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Salary Commission backs $19K pay increase for prosecutor
San Juan County's prosecuting attorney will be among the highest-paid local elected officials in 2012, thanks to the Citizens Salary Commission and its endorsement of a $19,000 pay increase.
On Dec. 2, the Salary Commission voted 7-3 to boost the prosecutor's annual salary from $130,000 to $148,832 a year, beginning in 2012. How that pay increase – nearly $19,000 more than the prosecutor will earn this year – will be implemented has yet to be determined.
"The recommendation from (the prosecutor) is to phase it in over time," Salary Commission Chairman Michael Roger said. "That's probably what we'll do with it."
According to county Human Resources Manager Pamela Morais, the majority of commissioners were swayed by a decision of the state Legislature two years ago that the salaries of county prosecutors and Superior Court judges should be equal. San Juan County Superior Court Judge Don Eaton earns $148,832 a year, of which half is paid by the state. The state also pays up to half of the county prosecutor's salary. (Salaries of Superior and District Court judges are determined by the state, not by a local salary commission.)
The vote came in a year that has seen town and county employees take unpaid furloughs to help balance budgets. In 2011, unionized county employees will take five unpaid furlough days and forego cost of living increases.
In a memo to the commission, Prosecuting Attorney Randall K. Gaylord noted that the amount the county will be contributing toward the pay increase equals $1,575 a month. The prosecutor received a pay increase of roughly $18,900 in 2008 as well, in step with the state legislation which intended to tie together the annual compensation of judges and prosecuting attorneys.
Roger said the commission, which will meet twice in 2011, will most likely reach a decision on how the prosecutor's pending pay raise should be enacted when it meets in the fall. The commission's first meeting of 2011 is scheduled for April 21.
Meanwhile, the commission, in a 8-1 decision, voted against granting pay raises and cost-of-living increases for any of the county's other elected officials, with exception of the sheriff, in the coming year. The sheriff is expected to receive a cost-of-living increase of 1 percent.