Nancy Stahoviak: Pay change unnecessary
I just read the article in the Steamboat Today about the potential substantial increase in the pay for Routt County elected officials. While there are some elected positions that should be filled with individuals with specific training and expertise (sheriff, treasurer, assessor and clerk), and it is important to attract candidates to run for those positions that have the expertise to adequately perform their duties, I do not feel that is the case for the position of Routt County commissioner.
Having served Routt County as a county commissioner for 20 years (from 1993 to 2013), I am well aware of the time commitment and dedication required to provide the residents with the quality representation they deserve. But, it requires no special training or education to serve as a county commissioner. All it takes is the desire to serve one’s community, to truly be a public servant.
When I was growing up, my parents (both of whom are no longer living) showed, by example, the importance of serving by participating on a variety of volunteer boards and commissions. I carried on that legacy when my husband and I moved to Oak Creek in 1976, and I became a community volunteer.
When I ran for county commissioner, I did it because I cared about my community and wanted to serve to the best of my ability. I served for 20 years — not for the salary I was making, but because I wanted to give of myself to the community I love. I was blessed for 20 years to have served with fellow commissioners who felt the same way I did, and who truly cared more about their fellow residents than the salary they would be making.
County commissioners are not required to work a 40-hour week. A Board of County Commissioners sets its own meeting schedule and agendas. Individual commissioners set their own office hours.
Past history in Routt County shows that some commissioners chose to be in their offices only a couple days per week and not participate in any outside meetings. Do we want to attract people to run for county commissioner because they care about their community and want to serve it or because they want to make more money?
If now, as one current commissioner was quoted in the paper about the proposed $94,250-per-year salary, “That is a salary that will pique people’s interest,” will individuals run for commissioner out of a desire to make a substantial salary instead of a desire to truly serve their residents?
Will campaign spending escalate as people spend inordinate amounts of money to be elected to a position that will pay them such a salary? Would paying each commissioner $35,750 more than their current $58,500-per-year salary end up providing greater benefit to the residents of Routt County? I think not.
Retired Routt County commissioner
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