UPPER — Douglas County Council is reconsidering a proposal to keep the sheriff’s salary at the current level for the next four years.
The board referred the review of elected officer salaries to the committee on Thursday, March 17.
Sheriff Tom Dalbec presented the council with information showing that his salary was lower than that of most law enforcement officials in the area. He also pointed to the fact that if the salary proposal were to go through, the sheriff of Iron County, which has a population of 6,137, would earn more than the sheriff of Douglas County by 2026.
Douglas County has a population of 44,295 and is the fourth largest county in Wisconsin by total area, according to the US Census Bureau.
On March 3, the county administration committee proposed a 2% annual salary increase for the clerk of the courts, but no increase to the sheriff’s $90,361 salary for the next four years.
“I don’t have a dog in this hunt,” Dalbec said. “I finished at the end of this term. But when I found out that the admin committee was recommending a 0% raise for the sheriff’s next term, I was shocked, a little upset.
While county officials push to treat their employees well, Dalbec said the sheriff hasn’t.
“I think it’s downright insane when you have the third least populated county in the state of Wisconsin, Iron County, that the sheriff will earn more than that sheriff at the end of that term,” Dalbec said.
Supervisor Alan Jaques said he didn’t pay much attention to Iron County because he considered it an outlier.
However, documents provided to the board compiled by Dalbec showed that the sheriff of Douglas County earns less than the senior police chief and deputy chief, and the sheriffs of St. Louis and Carlton counties in Minnesota. While the sheriff of Douglas County earns more than the sheriffs of Washburn, Burnett, and Bayfield counties, all three counties have fewer than 16,000 residents.
Dalbec said the board should consider the position, not the person holding the position.
“I finished at the end of that term,” Dalbec said. “I don’t know who comes in after me, but give them a good shake when they come through the door. Zero percent for four years is ridiculous.
Supervisor Keith Allen asked if the board should adopt the salaries of elected officials at the meeting to be in effect for the next term.
After County Clerk Susan Sandvick pointed out that the council would meet one more time before the candidates began circulating documents on April 15, Allen made a motion to refer the matter to the administration committee, which was seconded by Jacques.
“As an ex-candidate, I thought that was enough money to run for that job,” said chairman Mark Liebaert.
Liebaert said he would not vote on the issue because he has not decided whether he can run for office again. Liebaert ran unsuccessfully for the job in 2014.
The administration committee will review salaries on April 7; the council will give its final opinion on 14 april.
In other cases counsel:
- Approved zoning ordinance amendments that will create two new zoning districts and regulate campgrounds and signs. The council originally passed the ordinance in January, but it was rescinded and recreated to correct clerical errors in the ordinance.
- Authorized the sale of land to the city where one of Superior’s combined sewer treatment plants was built in South Superior. The city will pay $140,000 for more than 10 acres of land previously leased to the county.
- Established a recruitment and retention program for non-management prison staff and 911 dispatchers. Staff salaries will increase by 0.5% for those employed at the start of the June 19 pay period, and an additional 1% if they are employed at the start of each of the September 25 and December 4 pay periods this year. The program does not extend beyond 2022.
- Created a grant program to help cities and towns acquire grants for broadband infrastructure projects. The council allocated $500,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act to provide matching funds for the local share of costs required by the grantmakers.