Some Routt County officials will see pay raises intended to improve hiring, retention |

Some Routt County officials will see pay raises intended to improve hiring, retention

Most won't see increases until 2027

Routt County commissioners moved to reclassify the county's salary category, increasing the future salaries of elected positions.
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Routt County commissioners signed a resolution on Tuesday, Feb. 28, to add Routt County to a state bill that will reclassify the county’s salary categorization for elected officials.

Commissioners did so with the intent to raise locally elected officials’ wages and make the positions more attractive to entice future candidates. This will shift Routt County from the 2-A to the 1-A category, increasing government expenditures for salaries for the designated elected officials whose salaries are set by state statute.

“If we really want qualified people to take these high visibility and responsibility positions, we need to at least make the wage attractive enough to have someone consider a potential career change,” Commissioner Tim Corrigan said. “This is especially for people who may not be at a convenient time in their life, say they are raising kids, to take on something new.”

Commissioners cited the high cost of living, growing property valuations, and increased compensation levels and benefits over the past 16 months for appointed but not elected officials, as well as the county having the tax resources to fund increased salaries, as reasons to move Routt County into the 1-A category.

With succession and retention at the forefront of the conversation, Routt County officials factored in cost of living and inflation when they decided to switch classifications. In recent commissioner meetings, county officials indicated they hope the raise in wages will attract and retain the highest quality candidates possible. 

Because of varying election cycles for the elected positions, the change will take effect at different times. 

For instance, the next election involving affected elected officials takes place in 2024 when voters will elect commissioners for Districts I and II. The new 1-A classification will cause the salaries for those two positions to increase in 2025. 

Up for election in 2026, the other positions — coroner, District III commissioner, assessor, treasurer, sheriff, clerk and recorder, and surveyor — will see salary increases in 2027. 

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Salary amounts will be adjusted every two years for inflation, and the raises will only take effect for terms that start after any change is made.

A large issue that drove officials to consider signing onto House Bill 23-1139 alongside nine other counties was salaries at the sheriff’s office.

“Currently, I have 12 employees in the Sheriff’s Office that when their salaries are maxed out, make more than me,” Routt County Sheriff Doug Scherar said. “There’s currently a need to provide incentives for deputies to take that next step and run for sheriff, knowing that they will not take a pay cut.”

Archuleta, Delta, Eagle, Grand, Las Animas, Ouray, Pitkin, Saguache and Summit counties are also on the bill. The bill passed Feb. 24, and Routt will be added on as an amendment. 

Routt County last reclassified its salary categories in a bill that passed in 2015, Senate Bill 15-288. This impacted 2017 and 2019 salaries. Before SB 15-288, locally elected officials had not seen a raise in seven years, which was prompted by the 2.5% annual increase of cost-of-living. 

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