Yakima County commissioners OK smaller salary increases for themselves

YAKIMA - In keeping with a policy for other county employees, Yakima County commissioners yesterday, Tuesday, decided to have a smaller wage increase starting in 2013.

Since 2006, the salary for each of the three commissioners, which will be just over $86,000 next year, have gone up 2.5 percent each year.

That rate was set by the previous board of commissioners.

Craig Warner is the county's budget director, and he says by law commissioners can only apply salary adjustments for their positions after the following election.

As a result, the salaries for Commissioners Kevin Bouchey and Mike Leita, running unopposed on the November ballot, will change to a 1 percent increase in 2013.

The salary for the commissioner seat held by Rand Elliott will still increase by 2.5 percent the next two years, then drop to 1 percent in 2015 after his position is up for election.

Warner said commissioners have tried to have their annual pay raises taken away, and their general practice is to return that annual 2.5 percent salary bump back to the county.

In addition, Warner said he feels the 1 percent increase is fair in that it reflects the raises other county employees receive next year.

And, their protests aside, he feels it's not fair for commissioners to receive no pay raise.

"I don't believe that just because you're an elected official you shouldn't get a raise," Warner said.

The 1 percent pay increase effective next year will apply to other elected officials in Yakima except for the prosecutor and judges, whose salaries are set by the state.

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