Salary Commission votes 3.5 percent COLA increase

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 11/6/19

The Maries County Salary Commission was convened last Thursday morning and the group of elected officials approved a cost of living increase of 3.5 percent for elected officials contingent upon if …

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Salary Commission votes 3.5 percent COLA increase

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The Maries County Salary Commission was convened last Thursday morning and the group of elected officials approved a cost of living increase of 3.5 percent for elected officials contingent upon if the county can give non-elected county employees a raise at or above the 3.5 percent level.

Another issue bought up at the meeting is the need to pay the prosecuting attorney for the full time work he does, or even at a rate of three-fourths of a full time prosecutor’s salary.

Those attending the meeting were the three commissioners of Victor Stratman, Ed Fagre and Doug Drewel, Sheriff Chris Heitman, Prosecutor Anthony “Tony” Skouby, County Clerk Rhonda Rodgers, Treasurer Rhonda Slone, Assessor Dana Simmons and Collector Jayne Williams. Circuit Clerk and Recorder Mark Buschmann called the meeting to order and the group elected Skouby as the chairman of the 2019 salary commission. Buschmann exited the room.

Slone gave a brief report about the county’s finances, saying last year at this time general revenue (GR) had a balance of $95,412. This year, the GR balance is $146,594. Fagre said not having multiple elections in 2019 made all the difference. Slone said sales tax is down about two percent; last year it was down three percent.

Rodgers, who is the county’s election authority, said in 2020 there will be four elections, which are the Presidential Preference, April Municipal, August Primary, and November General. Each election will cost the county about $20,000. Rodgers said the county will be reimbursed for the April Municipal Election and for the Presidential Primary if the state has the money. Last time it took awhile to get the reimbursement.

Drewel said 911 needs more money and Slone said they have been transferring money from GR to 911 to pay for salaries. Slone said there is an emergency fund. The county is required to have at least three percent of its budget in the emergency fund, if the county has the money to do it. Slone said currently county officials are paid at 100 percent of what the statute allows.

Skouby said he’d like to see a cost of living allowance (COLA). He gave his office employees a raise at the beginning of the year, but the work load in his office has greatly increased and they are working very hard. “You can see the strain on their faces,” he said. “We’re doing a lot of good work. It’s a ripple affect. The court revenues are up by a lot.”

Skouby said in 2017, the salary commission voted for a 3 percent COLA and actually received a 2.5 percent raise. Fagre said it works out to about 50 cents and hour and would cost an additional $20,000 annually.

Skouby said he wishes there was a way to make his position three-quarters rather than part time the way it is now. The full time pay is $148,000 which he said he does not need, but he’s working full time now and paid for part time. Sheriff Heitman said the sheriff’s office is keeping Skouby busy and “we bug him every other night.” Skouby said people are taking notice of the work they are doing. They are working together and sending people to prison. Heitman said his office stacked up cases waiting for Skouby to take office as prosecutor. He added that they are housing inmates on state charges and prosecuting state statutes with the county “footing the bill for it and that’s not right.” The county receives jail board of $19 a day for each inmate, “If we get it.” He thinks there needs to be a lawsuit to make the state pay its bills, which are not the counties responsibility.

Fagre said the state may want counties to consolidate its criminal justice operations. Skouby said small counties are against this and would not support it because then Maries County citizens would have to go to Linn or Rolla instead of Vienna.

It was obvious Skouby and Heitman have mutual respect for each other, are working well together, and enjoy doing so.

Stratman asked what the county can do. Skouby said his pay is based on assessed valuation and state statute. In north Missouri were they have “more stock trailers than people,” having a part time prosecutor is not problem. But, Skouby said, Maries County is having “growing pains and we’re seeing more outlaws.” There is no in between with the pay. He makes $47,000 as a part time prosecutor but has so much work he has to work more hours than a full time prosecutor. There is no time left for private practice to supplement his income and he’s having a hard time keeping up with the private work he already has. A full time prosecutor is paid $146,000, which is more than the county can afford.

Fagre said they need to talk to their legislators about making the prosecutor a state employee. Skouby said that fight has been going

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