Carson City became the first Nevada county Thursday to try to make up for the Legislature's failure to raise elected officials' salaries.
Exempting themselves, Carson City supervisors voted to buy $17,500 in retirement for each of the capital's five, full-time elected officials. Mayor Ray Masayko noted the city's charter forbids elected officials from having other jobs, and $87,500 is a small way to recognize their positions as city leaders.
"This doesn't establish a precedent or policy," Masayko said. "We will do it as we can and when we see a need. Many people in these agencies have a salary level that exceeds the department heads. We're not going to solve that today. This is a one-time recognition of the inequity that those elected officials face."
Nevada elected officials, whose salaries are controlled by the Legislature, haven't had a pay increase since 1995. A pay increase in this year's Legislature failed to make it through the Senate at the last minute. The city can't increase elected officials' pay, but supervisors do control the benefits they receive.
"It's very clear the Legislature intended to pass a pay increase," Supervisor Richard Staub said. "Every elected official sitting here who provides services to the citizens of Carson City knew when they ran for the job ... what the salary and benefits were. But there are limits. (No pay raise since 1995) creates an inequity. When you look at this and balance against (the fact) most government employees receive some sort of increase, at some point in time it becomes detrimental. In order to attract quality candidates to positions, with the exception of this job, salary is a factor."
Staub suggested supervisors look at raising the elected officials' benefits "more than once every seven or eight years."
"We look at salaries of our staff periodically, and this is something that should potentially be reviewed with some regularity," Staub said. "It's a small token as far as I'm concerned."
Supervisor Robin Williamson said as public servants, elected officials work seven days a week and are "often assigned blame for a lot of things that are out of their control.
"They're rarely given credit for the things they do accomplish," she said. "It's difficult to know how to compensate that. We're doing something that is legal but long overdue."
The five elected officials -- District Attorney Noel Waters, Sheriff Rod Banister, Assessor Kit Weaver, Recorder Alan Glover and Treasurer Al Kramer -- can use the money to purchase retirement in the state system or a plan of their choice. Their salaries -- $57,523 for Kramer, $61,632 for Glover and Weaver, $67,200 for Banister and $86,832 for Waters -- are eligible for review again by the Legislature in 2003.
"We sign on to this not because of the money or because of the glory that's involved," Waters said. "We sign on for reasons that revolve around public service. This is a very significant recognition of our service."