Members of the Benton County Board of Commissioners will be receiving 2 percent raises retroactive to July 1.
The action was unanimously authorized by the citizen members of the county’s Budget Commission, which met Monday at the Sunset Building.
The three commissioners, chair Xan Augerot, vice-chair Annabelle Jaramillo and Anne Schuster, also are members of the Budget Commission, but they are not allowed to participate in deliberations on their salaries.
The citizens group originally was scheduled to render a decision at a May 22 meeting, but the session was continued because members wanted more data on salaries for commissioners in similar-sized counties.
Upon reviewing the numbers provided by county staff, commissioners concluded that Benton County “was pretty much in the middle” compared to other counties and Curtis Wright made the motion for the 2 percent increase. Wright was joined in the unanimous vote by chair David Dowrie and Phyllis Lee, who voted via conference call.
Currently, first-term commissioners Augerot and Schuster receive $83,988 annually plus benefits, while Jaramillo, who is in her fifth term, receives $94,071. There is an intermediate step of $89,036 for second-term commissioners, but no current board member is in that range.
The new salaries will be $85,668 for first-term commissioners, $90,817 for second term and $95,952 for third term and beyond.
“I’m considering their performance for the past few years,” Lee said of her vote, while adding that she also wanted to make sure that commissioners received salaries comparable to county managers.
The raises were the first for board members since 2015, when they received a 5.65 percent raise. The raise in 2014 was 6.0, with raises in the four to five years before that ranging between 1.7 percent and 3.1 percent. Dowrie noted that the 5.65 and 6.0 raises were necessary to help boost the salaries of commissioners to comparable levels with county managers.