Five elected Kewaunee County officials have each filed letters to the County Board objecting to significant pay raises to be considered Tuesday night for the county administrator and finance director.
The Personnel, Advisory and Legislative Committee last month approved jumping Administrator Scott Feldt four steps on the county salary schedule for the position, from $44.33 an hour this year to $49.89, or from $92,206 annually to $103,771, effective Jan. 1, a 12.5 percent increase.
The committee also recommended a two-step increase for Finance Director Paul Kunesh, from $79,372 to $84,219, a 6.1 percent increase.
Sheriff Matt Joski, Treasurer Michelle Dax, Clerk Jamie Annoye, Clerk of Circuit Court Rebecca Deterville, and Register of Deeds Germaine Bertrand each sent letters to the board questioning the big increases in a time of austerity for the county.
“The pay plan was designed to move employees up by steps, as they gain experience with their position, and it seems as though this doesn’t pertain to everyone,” Betrand wrote, “which I believe is very unfair to the other employees who do just as good a job and have been with the county for many years.”
“The proposed increase is an insult to our elected county officials, department heads and employees who continue to lose staff and co-workers, Deterville said. “We are expected to take on the same amount of work with less staff. The county administrator is now taking on less duties and being rewarded with higher compensation.”
“I would like to remind the board that Scott Feldt himself is the person who created this wage scale that the employees must abide by,” Annoye said. “Why is it not good enough for his salary?”
If the administrator were to get the next single step on his salary schedule, his 2018 base would be $45.66 an hour or $94,972 annually.
“How many people in our county can say they received a pay increase of $10,000 for next year?” Dax said. “As the person who will be at the counter and on the phone when the tax bills go out this year, a tax bill that will show an increase on pretty much everyone’s bill, this increase is truly unexplainable.”
“I am not implying that this position is not vital or even not worthy of such a pay increase, however, we are a small county with limited resources and perception is everything,” Joski said. “We continue to have a community struggling through recent economic downturns, We have just asked the taxpyaers to approve a sales tax to sustain our operations at basic minimums. I don’t know how this extent of a pay increase could be acted on in good conscience; in fact, I feel it will be viewed that we were not acting in good faith when the proposed sales tax was implemented.”