The elected officials in Montmorency County may be facing a cut in wages and benefits beginning in 2009.
On Wednesday, the Montmorency County Board of Commissioners discussed a proposal to make cuts for officials once they begin their new terms in 2009.
The changes cannot be made to elected officials for their current term of office.
The proposed changes came from the finance committee, which consists of board members Paul Wingate and Gene Thornton.
Chairman Roger Frye said during the meeting that it was the first time he had seen the proposed cuts.
The cuts would reduce the pay of elected officials and require them to contribute 10 percent to their retirement fund
Commissioner Bert LaFleche said he couldn’t justify cutting the pay of the officials since they haven’t had a pay raise in two years.
LaFleche and fellow Commissioner Zachary Weaver requested a survey of what comparable counties pay their elected officials.
Thornton said Montmorency County pays less than most other counties, but the lower wages are necessary.
“We’re balancing our budget, we’re not balancing those other counties budgets,” he said.
Undersheriff Patricia Wiley said she believed making the cuts was a step in the wrong direction. She said department heads already had been asked to make cuts and do more with less within their departments and cutting their pay now would be unfair.
“I just feel that is a total kick,” she said.
Although Wiley is appointed and not elected, the proposal has her paying 5 percent of her retirement plan.
Prosecutor Terrie Case and Treasurer Wanda Teets also voiced their disapproval of the cuts.
Case, whose salary would be cut nearly $7,000, said if the proposed cut is made the prosecutor’s wage would go back to the level it was in 1999-2000.
“It’s like a slap in the face,” she said. “You can’t cut the wages like this and expect people to say ‘yeah we’re OK with it.’”
Teets said she will run again to keep her office, but the proposed cuts are discouraging.
“It’s almost like they want you to leave, and that’s how I feel,” she said.
Case said it is unfair the board is discussing wage cuts after spending nearly $1 million to renovate the county courthouse last year.
Wingate said the commissioners also will be taking cuts. He said they had already cut their mileage to 15 cents per mile for out-of-county meetings, and eliminated it for in-county meetings.
Under the proposal, the board also would receive an increased salary of $6,500 for board members and $7,000 for the board chairperson, but per diem would be eliminated. Per diem was budgeted to cost the county $20,000 in 2008.
Board members also will not be given health insurance under the proposed cuts, but may purchase it at the county’s rate.
“We’re taking the same hit, Terrie,” Wingate said.
LaFleche then said he believed commissioners shouldn’t receive any benefits.
Board members tabled any action on the proposal until a future meeting, potentially their April 23 meeting.
In other business;
? Wiley discussed the possibility of a millage for 911 service. The funding for the service currently comes from a surcharge on telephone bills, but the bill that allows for the collection of those funds expires on Feb. 28. If it is not renewed, a millage may be needed, she said.
? Huron Undercover Narcotics Team Commander Detective Lt. Rick Schultz presented the board HUNT’s 2007 annual report.
He also discussed a millage for a HUNT and school liaison officer in the county. The millage proposal likely would be around 0.3 mills.
Sean Harkins can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5688.