June 2 - Salary Increases Recommended for County Officials

This article appeared in the E-Ticker News June 2, 2014

NH House Happenings

By Rep. John Cloutier

Salary Increases Recommended For County Officials

The Sullivan County Delegation to New Hampshireʼs House of Representatives is now in the midst of its important work as the legislative branch of our countyʼs government.

On May 29 the delegation, by a unanimous 9-0 roll call vote, established annual salaries for seven out of eight public officials which Sullivan County voters elect every two years in November. Under current New Hampshire law, the delegation must set all seven of the officialsʼ salaries by no later than one day before the start of the 10-day filing period for all federal, state, and county offices, a period that begins this Wed., June 4. The only exception is the Sullivan County Registrar of the Probate, whose salary is established by state law because the position is part of the stateʼs probate court system. The seven county officials whose salaries were established at the May 29 meeting in Newportʼs Woodhull County Building included those of the three commissioners, the high sheriff, the registrar of deeds, attorney, and treasurer. The established salaries will take effect on Jan. 1, 2015, when the new terms of all seven officials will start, and were recommended by the Delegationʼs Executive Finance Committee, also known as the “EFC.”

Among the salary increases recommended by the EFC that the delegation approved were small raises for the three part-time commissioners, who serve as the executive branch of Sullivan County Government. Presently, all three each make $9,885 per year. Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, the three will each make $10,000 per year, a $115 annual increase. Then on Jan. 1, 2016, they will each bring home $10,070 per year, a $70 annual increase. Other increases include a $35 annual increase on Jan. 1, 2015, for our part-time county treasurer, whose salary will rise by $4,965 to $5,000 per year. This will be followed by a $70 annual increase on Jan. 1,,2016, when the salary will rise from $5,000 to $5,070.

Furthermore, there will be annual raises for the one full-time county official, our county attorney. The county attorneyʼs annual salary now at $78,895 would increase by $4,105 per year to $83,000 on Jan. 1, 2015, followed by a $1,162 annual hike to $84,162 per year, starting Jan. 1, 2016. Our current county attorney, Marc Hathaway, was first elected in 1986, and has never been challenged in any subsequent Republican Primary nor General Election since 1986, according to my memory.

On the other hand, the salary of the full-time registrar of deeds would remain unchanged on Jan. 1, 2015, from its present $55,788 per year. But the registrarʼs salary would go up by $781 per year to $56,569 on Jan. 1,,2016. Additionally, the high sheriffʼs salary would decrease by $5,300 annually from its current $67,300 per year to $62,000 on Jan. 1, 2015. However, the high sheriff would get a $868 salary increase on Jan. 1, 2016 that would push the positionʼs pay up to $62,868.

Sunapee Rep. Suzanne Gottling, who is the EFC Chair, officially presented the salary recommendations on her committeeʼs behalf to the delegation on May 29. Rep. Gottling stated that the EFCʼs proposed salary increases for the commissioners, treasurer, and county attorney were reasonable for a small and relatively low-income county like Sullivan. She added that giving no salary increase to the registrar of deeds in 2105 is because incumbent, Sharron King, is not seeking re-election in the 2014 Election after 30 years of service, and her successor is unlikely to have the same level of experience as Ms. King now has.

Additionally, Rep. Gottling said that the high sheriffʼs annual salary was recommended to be reduced by $5,300 in 2015 because incumbent High Sheriff Michael Prozzo, is also not seeking re-election in 2014 after 20 years of service. She indicated that High Sheriff Prozzo actually suggested to the EFC that the high sheriffʼs salary be reduced because his successor would likely not have the same level of experience that he presently has.

For readersʼ information, I did vote for establishing the salaries of the seven Sullivan County elected officials for their next two-year terms as recommended as recommended by the EFC. As County Delegation Chair, I had asked the EFC to examine the salaries of all the officials, and make recommendations for the salaries to the Full Delegation. Since one of the EFCʼs major responsibilities is to help draw up proposed county budgets in consultation with the county commissioners, I believed assigning the EFC the task of dealing with such salaries made sense. Frankly, the EFCʼs recommendations were reasonable in my opinion, and Iʼm pleased that all of the delegation representatives present agreed with me.

In other business at the May 29 meeting, I announced that the public hearing on the county commissionersʼ proposed Fiscal Year 2015 Budget, which would tentatively take effect on July 1, 2015, will be held on Mon. June 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Sugar River Technical Center on South Street in Claremont. At this hearing the commissioners will review their proposed budget and take questions from the public as well as representatives of the 13-member delegation present. After the June 9 hearing, the commissioners will officially submit their proposal to the EFC, which already has been reviewing their unofficial proposal for the past several weeks. The EFC will then likely make at least a few revisions to the commissionersʼ proposal, before submitting their proposed Fiscal Year 2015 Budget recommendations to the Full Delegation, recommendations that are now likely to be voted on by the delegation at a meeting tentatively scheduled for Tues., June 24, at 6:00 p.m. in Newportʼs Sugar River Technical Center.

Email: jocloutier@comcast.netpage5image54080 page5image54240