Wichita county leaders deciding whether to accept raises

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Elected Sedgwick County officials have three weeks to decide whether they will accept pay raises following a job classification and compensation study.

Some leaders have said they will reject the raises, while others are either taking them or are undecided.

County Manager William Buchanan recently sent emails to county commissioners, Sheriff Jeff Easter, District Attorney Marc Bennett, Clerk Kelly Arnod, Treasurer Linda Kizzire and Register of Deeds Bill Meek telling them they are eligible for increases.

The study found that county salaries are on average 3.75 percent below market wages. Buchanan said the county couldn’t afford to adjust them that much and agreed to an average 1.26 percent increase, with some officials seeing higher raises because they had previously rejected pay hikes.

Arnold, Kizzire and Meek have said they would accept the raises, which would push their salaries from $80,442 to $82,500 — an increase of $2,058 each, or 2.6 percent.

“I have supported the commissioners’ decision to do an overall countywide compensation study for all our employees — something that has not been done in over 10 years,” Arnold said in an email to The Eagle.

County commissioners are eligible for a bump from $83,718 to $84,772, an increase of 1.26 percent. In January their salaries are scheduled to jump to $89,715, which is where they would be if commissioners hadn’t shunned earlier increases, because two new commissioners could come on board that month.

Commissioners Karl Peterjohn and Richard Ranzau said they won’t accept pay increases, with Peterjohn saying he made a promise not to accept a pay increase unless the county’s jobless rate was below state and federal averages. Commissioner Dave Unruh said he likely would accept an increase but has not decided.

The U.S. employment rate was 6.3 percent in April and May. Kansas’ rate was 4.8 percent in April, the most recent available, and the metro Wichita area was at 5.8 percent in April.

Sheriff Easter said he will accept a raise from $120,987 to $126,491, a 4.5 percent hike because he and previous sheriffs have rejected increases in the past. Bennett said he is still considering whether to accept an increase in his district attorney’s salary from $142,796 to $145,651.

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