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Commissioners OK raises for top employees

"It was supposed to be a slam dunk. Everything on the Kitsap County Commissioners' consent agenda for their weekly meetings is supposed to be past the discussion phase, and the commissioners usually approve 10 or more items in one lump.But May 8, Commissioner Charlotte Garrido asked to discuss a resolution reclassifying positions with various county departments.In plain English, the resolution was a pay raise for the director of administrative services, William Nogle; Personnel and Human Services director Bert Furuta; and Holly Anderson, clerk of the commissioners. The boosts put Nogle and Furuta above $82,000 a year and Anderson beyond the $53,000 mark.I want to begin by expressing my respect of the directors and to say that each is doing a good job. My opinion of this resolution is in no way to be taken as a criticism of them, Garrido said.But she had her reasons for speaking up.I don't feel we are serving the taxpayers of our county. The directors are well-paid at base compared to Kitsap County standards, Garrido said. They get significant benefits, including longevity bonuses. This increase will lead to a ripple effect. We are aware that this will lead to other (employees) requesting similar consideration.Garrido said her major concern is that a 1990 study of county government salaries has been a major tool in conducting compensation analysis for classification review. I see no reason for us to diverge from this method.Equity to all employees is essential, she said. Our best efforts need to assure fairness in the union negotiations that are currently underway and that management reclassifications follow the same rigor. Benchmarks and standards are important to that.In a rare case of public disagreement among the board members, Commissioner Chris Endresen disagreed.Endresen said the study referred to by Garrido is 10 years old, and people weren't happy with it then. We have to speak up for our folks. These reclassifications are (only) 4 to 5 percent increases, bringing the salaries in line with those in other counties - Clark, Thurston, Whatcom and Yakima - that we use for our union comparisons.There is no good time, Endresen continued, to give public employees raises, but we have to just bite the bullet and do it.Commissioner Tim Botkin said it's very common for someone to object to raises for public employees. We're trying to provide good quality service, and for that, you have to have good people. As much as you wish you never had to spend more money, to have a good organization you have to pay the people. Botkin and Endresen voted for the salary reclassification, defeating Garrido's vote against it.Both Furuta and Nogle were making $78,811 before the vote. They will now make $82,721. Anderson's salary goes from $50,772 to $53,352."

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