Despite having four commissioners on the Faribault County Board with years of experience, they have apparently forgotten how to give themselves a pay raise.
Darren Esser, county auditor/treasurer, says commissioners failed to pass a resolution in December to increase their salary this year.
“Unfortunately, I directed them to make a simple motion rather than a resolution on Dec. 20 when they set their 2023 pay increase,” says Esser.
Commissioners approved a motion made by Bill Groskreutz and second by Bruce Anderson for a 5 percent pay hike. An earlier motion made by John Roper seeking an 8 percent increase died for lack of a second.
However, the board did not heed the advice of a memo “Avoiding Pitfall” issued by the State Auditor’s Office published on Aug. 8, 2022.
“Any increase in compensation for 2023 must be adopted in a resolution by the county board before the end of 2022. The resolution must state the new salary on an annual basis,” says the memo. “Decrease in salary or per diem, however, may take effect at any time.”
This isn’t the first time commissioners Tom Loveall, elected in 2003; Groskreutz, elected in 2004; Roper, elected in 2009; and Greg Young, elected in 2011, have voted to set their salary for the upcoming year. Anderson was elected into office in 2020.
During the board’s Dec. 21, 2021, meeting, commissioners approved keeping their salary last year at $22,205. And, they did it by passing a resolution.
At their meeting held Jan. 3, 2023, the board did pass a resolution, but it is too late under state law.
According to minutes of the meeting, they also considered approving an increase of $2,642 to the 2023 budget to pay for their 5 percent wage hike. Their new annual salary would have been $23,314.
Esser admits the snafu was in part to his oversight and some board members aren’t too happy about it.
“You may be seeing board action in the near future to remove me from office. However, I hope that is not the case,” he says.
Whether or not commissioners have the authority to remove an elected official will be a legal question that will have to be answered.