Commissioners Keenan Ertel and James Lambert voted for the raise, and Larry Don Suckla voted against it. The increase in pay does not take effect until Jan. 1, 2019.
During a discussion about the raise, Suckla said he did not believe it was up to him to decide on a raise for elected officials.
“It should be put to a vote of the people,” he said.
By Colorado statute, county commissions are required to decide if elected officials in their district will get a 10 percent, 20 percent, or 30 percent raise, or no raise. Salaries and benefits are paid out of the county coffers and reach $9 million to $10 million per year out of a $36 million budget.
The raises apply to elected officials voted into office at the next election.
The commissioners met elected officials about the raise proposals, including Montezuma County Coroner George Deavers, Clerk Kim Percell, Assessor Leslie Bugg, Sheriff Steve Nowlin, and Treasurer Sherry Dyess.
Nowlin and Deavers noted that their positions are “24-7” obligations. Ertel noted that the coroner and sheriff cover a large county, including federal lands and the Ute Mountain Ute reservation, but do not receive much financial support from those agencies.
In 2015, the commissioners voted 2-1 against any raise, with Lambert voting against the motion to deny the raise.
Before voting to approve a 10 percent raise, the commission asked Percell whether they could put a question on the November ballot asking voters to decide on the raise but were informed the deadline had already passed. With the 10 percent raise, beginning in 2019 elected officials will receive the following salaries: assessor, $64,350; commissioner, $64,350; coroner, $36,410; clerk, $64,350; sheriff, $83,600; treasurer, $64,350; and surveyor, $3,360.