Routt County stepping up to category II would result in 2019 pay raises for elected officials |

Routt County stepping up to category II would result in 2019 pay raises for elected officials

— A bill sponsored by State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, which would clear the way for elected officials in Routt County to look forward to their first pay raises since 2007, will move on to the state Senate after passing the House by a vote of 63-2 Monday.

House Bill 1256 would result in a $14,000 annual pay increase for most elected officials in Routt County over the next two election cycles and be completed in 2019.

Technically, Routt County is being reclassified from a category III county to a category II county for purposes of compensating elected officials. As such, it will join other similar counties, including Fremont, Mesa, Summit, La Plata (Durango), Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield.

“Routt County’s workload is more like the workload of larger counties because of our mix of tourism, agriculture, energy development and electric generation,” Mitsch Bush said. “We need reclassification to ensure we have quality public servants who can effectively represent their constituents.”

Routt County Clerk Kim Bonner said Monday that the state constitution forbids pay raises for elected officials in mid-term. However, should they decide to run for another term and prevail in the 2017 election, incumbent commissioners Doug Monger and Tim Corrigan would see their annual compensation go from $58,500 annually to $72,500. Commissioner Cari Hermacinski, elected in 2015, and other county officials, would wait until 2019 for the pay increases.

A county’s category is based on its population and officials’ workload and determines the salaries of its elected officials, according to Chris Linsmayer, deputy communications manager for the Colorado House Democrats. Currently, as a category III county, Routt is in the same classification with 19 other counties including Rio Blanco, San Miguel, Grand, Gunnison, Montrose and Moffat among others.

A group of Routt County elected officials including Sheriff Garrett Wiggins, Assessor Gary Peterson, Coroner Rob Ryg and Treasurer/Trustee Brita Horn came to the commissioners in April 2014 seeking their approval on the House and Senate chairmen seeking a late bill before the legislature to change Routt’s category prior to the November elections, but that bill did not advance.

Several elected officials pointed out at that time they have more than one employee who earns more than they do annually.

Bonner said that trend has only grown in the last year as the county, emerging from recession and the salary freezes it invoked, has restored step raises to county workers. As the newly elected county clerk, she said she now has three employees who earn more than she does.

“I’m glad to see it’s happening,” Bonner said. “I couldn’t see anybody in this office stepping up and running in four years,” otherwise, she said.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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