I have never met or spoken with Steve Anderson, a Democratic candidate for county commission, but I am interested that he is the only person asking why the compensation paid to county elected officials is substantially higher than the compensation paid to other similarly positioned county officers in larger counties. Public service should be fairly compensated, and there are various ways of weighing job components for purposes of pay setting. The highest-paid commissioner in Davis County receives a total compensation package of $181,168. In Utah County, he would receive $152,519. The Salt Lake County mayor receives $169,202.
Davis County is wall-to-wall cities, and while the magnitude of the County budget has changed significantly in the past several years, the scope of a commissioner’s actual administrative responsibility is not much different than it was 20 years ago. By contrast, Governor Herbert’s total compensation clocks in at $149,511.
Our county attorney is the highest-paid, elected, legal officer in Utah, at $236,886. His counterpart in Utah County receives $169,687. Utah’s attorney general is paid $146,277. The chief justice of our Supreme Court is paid $214,884. Our county clerk is paid $176,555; if he were the clerk for Utah County, he’d receive $140,457. The base salary of the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court is just $223,500.
Commissioners levy taxes, adopt ordinances, and make policy. The same could be said of Congress, whose members deal with trillion dollar budgets, oversee the entire federal government for an annual base salary of $174,000 plus benefits. The Secretary of Defense runs the worldwide U.S. military establishment for a base salary of $199,700.
I suspect that the clerks, mechanics, and secretaries who do the county’s heavy lifting are getting by on pretty average wages. Commissioner Petroff points to commission salaries as “only 1.2% of the general fund.”