The Hot Beat


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

Manager salary freeze: Is it a punitive demand?

Brent Oleson thinks so. He argues the non-supervisor elected officials — Auditor Joel Miller, Treasurer Mike Stevenson, Sheriff Brian Gardner and Recorder Joan McCalmant — aren’t nearly as interested in fiscal conservatism as they say they are.

Really? Then why did ALL of those elected officials turn in budget requests well above last year’s funding for their own departments? Why did most of them let their politically appointed staff receive double-digit raises over the last two years? Why do most of them continue to grow their own areas of government at healthy rates?

Freezing management salaries has been the talk of the county since the aforementioned elected officials called for it Friday. County Attorney Harold Denton has taken no official position on the matter.

About 135 non-elected, non-deputy and non-bargaining unit county employees would be affected by a management salary freeze. They are among the better-paid of all county employees.

Oleson, taking his argument to its logical conclusion, took off the gloves and pounded away at the sheriff’s office budget Monday afternoon, in a routine budget review which under normal circumstances would have gone off with a few shallow questions from the board followed by the adoption of staff recommendations. (By the way, the true nature of this process cuts at the heart of the popular argument that supervisors are CEOs of a $100 million corporation. Staffers Dawn Jindrich and Steve Tucker make most of the budget decisions.)

Oleson voted not to approve the sheriff’s budget, and was defeated 4-1. He didn’t think the sheriff needed to add two positions, or buy 9 new squad cars. Sheriff Brian Gardner was there, and as usual, answered questions in his placid, reasonable way.

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