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The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him: adam.belz@gazcomm.com

Assessor salary talks foreshadow supervisor discussion

The Linn County Compensation Board meets Tuesday, a mere five days from now, and they will determine the county supervisors’ likely salary.

Linda Langston assured me yesterday that the board will meet Monday to come up with its recommendation for the comp board, which will be an opportune way for the supervisors to express their consent for a pay cut, if they in fact consent to that.

Judging by discussion at the Conference Board meeting Wednesday, this is far from certain.

The Conference Board oversees the county Assessor’s Office and is made of representatives from the three taxing entities in Linn County — the cities, the schools and the county. They took up the assessor’s budgets, and disagreement sprung up over the salaries of assessor’s office employees.

Representatives from the schools pushed for Assessor’s Office salaries to be frozen, and the cities and the county pushed for a 3.5 percent increase.

“It’s not that I don’t believe everybody’s worth it, I just think it sends a negative message to the public,” said Mary Ames, a board member for the Marion Independent School District. “We’re in an economic depression, and people are losing jobs.”

But she and fellow school representatives couldn’t persuade the county’s mayors or the Board of Supervisors.

Those two groups refused to second any motion for a budget amendment to freeze Assessor’s Office salaries.

Linn County Supervisor Linda Langston argued that in order to attract qualified talent, the salaries need to be competitive. Kester pointed out that just because the Conference Board approves a 3.5 percent raise, doesn’t mean everyone in the office gets it.

But Ames persisted through the meeting, and moved for amendments on two separate Assessor’s Office budgets, just to
freeze staff salaries.

“From the president on down, they’re freezing wages,” she said.

Tom Wieseler, a board member in the Mount Vernon School District, agreed.

“We’re not living in la-la land,” he said. “We need to be realistic.”

Langston told Ames she understood her point, but they would simply have to agree to disagree.

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