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County Board discusses starting pay

CRYSTAL FALLS—An old topic was the subject of another round of discussions at the regular meeting of the Iron County Board of Commissioners meeting on Dec. 16.
    The subject of newly elected officials’ starting wages was a main topic at the meeting, though no decision was made. Instead, the board decided to have its personnel committee consider the topic and bring back a plan early in 2015.
    The discussion centered on the idea of cutting newly elected officials’ starting pay by 10 percent. Administrator Sue Clisch said that would cut those salaries from a starting point of $47,354 to $42,600. The idea also included performance reviews along the way to increase pay.    
    However, Prosecuting Attorney Melissa Powell and Sheriff Mark Valesano, both elected officials, presented arguments against both cutting the starting salary and the idea of performance reviews by the board. Neither would see their salary cut because they are not newly elected.
    “We aren’t evaluated as office holders by the board. We do that job because we’re elected to do it by the people,” Valesano said. “If we don’t do that job well, then somebody will be taking our place.”
    “You don’t have a supervisory authority over us,” Powell added. “The only authority you have is the purse strings, because you can limit or take money from our offices. We want to work with you, but you don’t set the standards for us to work toward. That’s the voters, who turn us out of office if we’re doing a bad job.”
    Commissioners Ray Coates and Tim Aho also disagreed with the idea.
    “I agree totally with the sheriff and the prosecutor, simply because of the fact that any organization is based on its employees,” Coates said. “I believe that you have to

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