A spokesman for the Peace Officers Research Association on Monday urged lawmakers not to approve pay raises for Nevada’s elected county officials saying employee bargaining groups haven’t gotten guaranteed raises during the recession.
Ron Dreher told the Assembly Government Affairs Committee elected officials got raises from 2007 through 2011, “during a time when everyone else was going to the negotiating tables and giving concessions.” He said SB482 would guarantee those officials including sheriffs, DAs, clerks, assessors, treasurers and recorders 3 percent a year for the next four years.
“We would be in support of this if you gave the same to everyone else,” he said.
But committee chairman John Ellison, R-Elko, challenged Dreher’s contention that employee groups haven’t gotten pay raises during the recession: “You’re saying in the last seven years, bargaining units never had a raise?”
Dreher’s testimony was the only opposition to the bill during the hearing.
He said the only new contract he knows of containing raises was the recently signed pact granting raises to the Carson City Sheriff’s Office employees.
“I don’t believe that’s true,” said Ellison. “I believe they had a COLA every year or every other years. There are elected officials across the state making less, half of what a (police) sergeant makes.”
He said he wanted to research the issue and get a list of what employee bargaining units across the state have gotten in the past four to seven years.
Jeff Fontaine of the Nevada Association of Counties said local elected officers haven’t had a raise since 2010. And during the recession, he said some local officials declined the raises before 2010.
Douglas County District Attorney Mark Jackson, head of the Nevada District Attorneys Association, said all but one official in Douglas took a voluntary 5 percent pay cut during the recession.
“The one who did not voluntarily take a pay cut is no longer a public official in Douglas County,” he said.
Dreher said bargaining units don’t receive a guarantee, like that in SB482, and that he doubts the economic conditions of the next four years can be predicted accurately enough to lock in those raises.
His comments also drew a rebuke from Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-Minden.
“So you’re saying it’s OK for your people to get a raise but not OK for elected officials to get a raise,” he said. “And you’re wondering why there are bills to rein in collective bargaining.”
SB482 is required before local elected officials can get raises because the state constitution gives control over local elected salaries to the Legislature.
As has been done in the past, the various counties are grouped according to size and population with Clark and Washoe officials receiving the most in salary.
Carson, Douglas and Churchill are in the middle group of seven counties. The bill as written would bump base pay for the DA in those counties to $118,872 next year and, by the end of the four years, to $129,895.
The sheriff’s base would increase to $98,567 in those same counties next year and, after the fourth year, $107,707.
The other elected officials — clerk, recorder, assessor and treasurer would go to $78,293 in 2016 and $85,553 by the end of four years.
Local elected officials, however, also receive increases based on their longevity in office, so only a few of those officials are at base pay.
The new contract for Carson City Sheriff’s Office deputies Dreher referenced provides them a 3 percent raise this and next fiscal year and a 2 percent raise in fiscal 2017. It was approved in December.
No action was taken on the bill.