Proposal Floated to Cut County Board Pay

A draft proposal that would cut compensation and benefits for Washtenaw County commissioners for the two-year 2013-2014 budget cycle was distributed by commissioner Dan Smith (R-District 2) at the county board’s March 7, 2012 meeting.

Currently, commissioners are paid an annual base salary of $15,500 plus $1,163 (7.5% of their salary) that the county contributes to their pension. [Officers of the board receive higher salaries: $18,500 for the board chair (Conan Smith), $16,000 for the board vice chair (Alicia Ping), $16,500 for the Ways & Means Committee chair (Rolland Sizemore Jr.) and the working session chair (Yousef Rabhi).] In addition, each commissioner has a $3,550 “flex” account, which they can tap for mileage and per diem. [.pdf of 2011 flex account expenditures]

Dan Smith’s proposal calls for a base salary of $16,250 per commissioner, but would eliminate the county’s pension contribution. Each commissioner would also receive $2,813 in optional benefits, including a county pension match of $813 (5% of their salary), $1,000 for education and training, and $1,000 for stipends to replace mileage and per diem payments.

Overall, the proposal would cut total compensation by 5.7% per commissioner – from the current $20,213 to a proposed $19,063.

Due to redistricting, the number of board seats will shrink from the current 11 commissioners to 9 commissioners, as of Jan. 1, 2013. Combining the proposed compensation cuts with the reduced number of commissioners, Smith calculated that compensation for the entire board would drop from $222,338 to $171,583 – a 22.8% decrease. These calculations do not factor in the higher salaries for board officers.

Smith noted that county employees have been asked to pay a portion of their pension contributions, and that his proposal would do the same for commissioners. Also, having stipends instead of flex accounts would make the paperwork simpler, he said – stipends could be calculated annually, based on each commissioner’s committee assignments.

The goal is to bring forward a formal proposal at the April 4 meeting for discussion and an initial vote. Smith said he hoped to get feedback on the proposal from commissioners, but there were no comments made during the meeting.

This brief was filed soon after adjournment of the March 7 county board meeting. A more detailed report will follow: [link]