Nevada Senate panel urged to revise Assembly pay raise bill

A key Senate panel was urged Wednesday to rewrite an Assembly bill to provide an opportunity for pay raises for all elected county officials in Nevada.

The Government Affairs Committee was told by representatives of various county officials that their last pay boosts were in 1995 -- but the Assembly bill would increase pay only for sheriffs and district attorneys.

An amendment to AB23 to include all the officials would bring the bill into line with Senate-approved SB53, which provides for across-the-board raises but also allows waivers for cash-strapped counties that can't afford the raises.

If AB23 remains limited just to sheriffs and district attorneys, Carson City Mayor Ray Masayko said, "It looks to us like it creates an inequity in county elected officials."

Masayko was backed by Douglas County Commissioner Bernie Curtis, Lyon County Commissioner Norm Frey and -- more importantly -- by Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno.

Raggio, who serves on Government Affairs, said it would be "a great disservice" to not expand AB23 to cover all the county officials, adding, "It's absolutely unconscionable that the Legislature has not raised these salaries since 1995."

Raggio said some fear a political backlash if the raises are granted, but added that when the long gap since the last raises is figured in the current proposal "is very, very reasonable. So I don't know where all the fear is."

"I think we should do the right thing," he said, drawing applause from the local officials who had showed up for the Government Affairs meeting.

The raises would range according to the job and size of the county. Both the Assembly and Senate bills boost the pay of Clark County district attorneys and sheriffs by more than $50,000 each, to $155,744 for the prosecutor and $134,262 for the sheriff.

The Washoe County district attorney could get a raise of more than $40,000, to $137,484; while the Washoe sheriff could get nearly $33,000 more annually, to $110,632.

Every other county's district attorney and sheriff also could get pay increases. The Assembly bill phases in the increase over the next two fiscal years. But the Senate plan would give officials the full raise on July 1 -- if there's adequate funding.

Also under SB53, salaries for Clark County commissioners increase from $54,000 to $71,820, and salaries for Washoe County commissioners from $39,600 to $52,668. Smaller county officials would get smaller raises.

Others who would get raises statewide include county clerks, assessors, public recorders, treasurers and administrators.

Lawmakers also are considering a proposal to give up the responsibility for county salaries altogether. The Assembly Constitutional Amendments Committee on Friday began review of AJR9, which would hand that duty over to county commissioners.


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