Pay raises not requested by all Wood County officials

PARKERSBURG – Three Wood County officials did not ask for the legislative-approved 12 percent pay raise.

The state auditor earlier determined there are funds in the county budget to grant all the pay hikes.

To receive the pay raise, county officials had to submit a written request to the clerk’s office by June 30. Funds for the pay raises here will come out of the contingencies line item and be placed in the elected officials’ line items in their budget to cover the new salaries and benefits.

The county’s contingencies line item had $123,000 in it for the 2014-2015 budget.

Wood County Assessor Rich Shaffer, Sheriff Ken Merritt, Prosecutor Jason Wharton, Circuit Clerk Carole Jones and County Commissioner Blair Couch all submitted the forms requesting their pay raises.

As passed by the Legislature, the salaries for Class I counties like Wood will be as follows: for county commissioners the salary went from $36,960 to $41,395; circuit and county clerk’s, $44,880 to $50,266; sheriff, from $44,880 to $50,266; assessor from $44,880 to $50,266 and prosecutor’s salary from $96,600 to $108,192.

Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes and Commissioners Wayne Dunn and Steve Gainer did not ask for the pay increase. Dunn is running for re-election and if elected he will automatically receive the pay hike after beginning a new term, which will be Jan. 1. He is running against former county commissioner Bob Tebay for the seat.

All new officials taking office for 2015 will automatically receive the pay hike.

The sheriff, county and circuit clerks, assessor, prosecutor and other two commissioners would have had to wait until their terms are up. If they run and are re-elected, they would then receive the automatic raise.

The county clerk’s position is up for election but only for the unexpired term, then it will be up for election again in 2016 for the regular term of office. Rhodes said earlier he would not seek the pay hike.

“I got a pay raise when I was named clerk,” Rhodes said. He was appointed county clerk by the commission after Jamie Six resigned the post. Rhodes faces Bob Buchanan in the November election.

The last pay hike for county officials was given in 2007.

Salaries for county officials who do not request the pay raise will remain at the current level.

During an earlier county commission meeting, Gainer commented he did not feel officials in their first term of office should request the pay raise. Gainer is in his first term.

“I don’t feel an official should receive the pay raise until his second term. I don’t feel I deserve it, save it for re-election and get it then, if I run and am re-elected,” Gainer said.

Couch, who is in his 8th year on the county commission, said he felt his “work on the commission speaks for itself.” Couch said earlier he was not among the county officials lobbying legislators for a pay raise.

Dunn said earlier he didn’t feel the commissioners, since it is a part-time post, were as much in need as the county officials who held their post full time.

“I don’t need it. I have a full-time job,” Dunn, who is a dentist, said.

“I told the delegates last year, the commissioners shouldn’t be included in a pay raise bill anyway. Most of the commissioners around the state are retired or have other means of income; it’s not their full-time job being a commissioner,” Dunn said. “I told the legislators where I stood, but they said it had to be all or none; they couldn’t break out certain offices.”

According to the pay raise bill, since Jan. 1, 2007, there have been additional duties imposed on county commissioners, sheriffs, county and circuit clerks, assessors and prosecuting attorneys by the state and federal government and that’s the impetus behind the raise.