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No pay raise for P.A. — Salary Commission reverses itself on pay-rate “benchmark”
Turns out that San Juan County’s prosecuting attorney won’t be receiving a boost in pay after all.
At least not anytime soon.
On April 21, the county Salary Commission bypassed the business end of how to implement a prospective pay raise for the prosecutor and, in a 180-degree turn, voted 6-2 against using the Superior Court judge’s salary as a “benchmark” for determining how much the prosecutor should be paid.
Prosecuting Attorney Randy Gaylord, who was attending an off-island conference of state officials when the commission met, took the news in stride.
The stage had been set for a $19,000 a year increase in the prosecutor’s pay, though timing of the pay raise had yet to be determined.
“I had no intention to have a salary change when the county is asking its employees to take furloughs,” Gaylord said. “I never anticipated any change in pay would happen until 2012.”
The decision to abandon that benchmark comes roughly five months after the commission, a 10-person panel of appointed volunteers, agreed in a 7-3 vote to support it. At that time the majority of the panel sided with a decision by the state legislature in 2008 that supports equal pay for a county’s elected prosecutor and its superior court judge.
Superior Court Judge Don Eaton earned $148,832 in 2010, half of which is paid by the state. The salary of Prosecuting Attorney Randy Gaylord, of which the state also pays half, totaled $130,000 a year ago.
Three years ago, the prosecutor received a boost in pay of $18,900 in step with state legislation that intends to tie together the annual compensation of judges and elected prosecutors.
San Juan Island’s Michael Roger, chairman of the salary commission, believes the benchmark is appropriate. He said the panel would still have been able to set out a timetable in which the prosecutor’s pay could be raised to match that of the superior court judge.
“My point of view is that we haven’t given him a dime,” Roger said. “All we did was set a benchmark. I don’t disagree with that benchmark.”
Established as part of the county’s home rule charter, the salary commission determines how much the county’s elected officials are paid. The panel also voted April 21 against a pay increase for the county assessor, auditor, clerk, sheriff and treasurer.