County pay bill heads back to Assembly

Legislation intended to give elected county officials their first pay raises since 1996 is headed for a conference committee over the Assembly's refusal to provide pay raises to elected county officials except sheriffs and district attorneys.

Assembly Bill 23 was originally introduced by Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, who is deputy chief of police in Henderson, to raise salaries of the sheriffs and district attorneys.

A companion bill that included all county elected officials died in the Assembly Government Affairs Committee.

Members of that panel led by vice chairman Wendell Williams, D-Las Vegas, and Tom Collins, D-Las Vegas, objected to raising county commission and other elected salaries because of Clark County's refusal to strike a labor deal with its classified workers.

The labor dispute has since been resolved, but Assembly members still don't want to give assessors, clerks, recorders and treasurers the same raises they have approved for district attorneys and sheriffs.

Some rural county elected salaries are as low as $33,600 a year. Nevada Association of Counties representatives say it's becoming difficult to attract good candidates for office at that rate.

The raises were calculated to correspond to average private-sector increases over the past eight years. That is less than what public employees including teachers have gotten.

The Senate put all officials in the bill except for the elected commissioners in each county, saying they have the legal ability to raise their own pay. The other officials, they said, must have salaries set by the Legislature.

The Assembly responded by offering those officials 3 percent each year, while still offering 33 percent raises for sheriffs and district attorneys.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, moved the Senate reject that plan and send the issue to conference, saying it's not fair to give some officials a tiny fraction of the pay hikes offered to other elected officials.

He said either the clerks, recorders, assessors and treasurers get the same percentage increase as district attorneys and sheriffs or none of the officials gets a raise.

"It seems completely inappropriate," he said.

He said he thinks the Assembly will be willing to work it out.


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