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Escape from Comp Board Island

The job is thankless, unpaid, and requires members to subject themselves to a brutal political firestorm each year. The real news may be that anyone wants to do it.

Two members of the Linn County Compensation Board, which decides how much elected Linn County officials are paid, are giving up their posts. They are Mary Quass, a business owner who lives in Mount Vernon, and Allen Merta, vice president for economic development at Priority One.

The two — both of them were appointed by the supervisors — have asked not to be reappointed to the board, Brent Oleson said at Wednesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. Their terms ended June 30.

Don Gray, the mayor of Central City who Oleson defeated in the District 4 supervisor race, has agreed to fill one of the empty spots, Oleson said. Amy Reasoner’s name came up as a possibility for the other opening.

Merta was chairman of the board. He and Quass both voted in February to freeze supervisor pay at $87,622, and both voted in 2008 to raise supervisor pay by 6 percent, a move that set off a controversy over supervisor pay that lasted more than a year.

At this year’s meeting, Quass attempted to strike a compromise between the Larry Wear/Dave O’Brien position (major pay cut) and the Ray Stefani/Phil Klinger position (no pay cut). Quass moved to cut supervisor salaries by 10 percent, to roughly $79,000 per year. That motion failed 4-2. Quass and Cedar Rapids attorney Steve Jackson Sr., who was appointed by County Attorney Harold Denton, were the only ones in favor. Quass eventually voted for the pay freeze.

The other two Comp Board members whose terms are up are Klinger, a treasurer appointment, and Wear, an auditor appointment. Klinger will be reappointed. Miller doesn’t know yet if Wear wants to stay on board.

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