County Salaries 10% to 70% Higher and 19% More Employees Than Peers

January 2009

Dear Osceola County Taxpayers,

The Osceola County Taxpayers Association (OCTA) appreciates the services our county government provides. We also continue our educational mission to insure our small county never loses its county government. There is currently a serious financial risk though. For too long, the Osceola County Supervisors have been justifying their high wages by comparing our county salaries to those salaries in counties right around us.

The problem with this comparison is that the five counties around us, on average, are nearly three times our size in population, have nearly three times the value of property subject to taxation and have personal income per person, on average, nearly 15% higher than the average income in Osceola County. See the report here.

Therefore, the OCTA decided to compare our salaries to Iowa counties our size. That seems reasonable, doesn’t it? We chose a class of all Iowa counties under 7,500 in population where we found six other counties.

We discovered Osceola County is 10% higher in population than the average of these six counties but found our personal income, at $26,136, ranks very low - 85th from the top out of 99 Iowa counties. Three in the group of small counties were higher than ours.

We also found not one of the counties our size can afford a full time county attorney. We also found our Supervisors, totaled together, are making $29,663 (42%) more than the average total of all Supervisors salaries in the six other small Iowa counties. And this does not include their lucrative benefits package.

The excessive wages which our Supervisors, County Attorney, Auditor, Recorder, Sheriff and Treasurer receive, are draining $75,984 out of taxpayer’s pockets this year, over and above what the average salaries taxpayers in these other Iowa counties pay. $75,984! The report shows Osceola County salaries are 10% to 70% higher than the elected officials receive in all the other small Iowa counties. We are not Sioux County! We are not Dickinson County! We shouldn’t be spending like we are.

Some say these extra salaries are needed because the number of Osceola County support staff in these elected offices is less than these other small counties. The opposite is true! Here’s how we know. When comparing our employees and the employees of the other counties, as reported by the Iowa State Association of Counties, we counted every two-and-a-half part time employees as the equivalent of one full time county employee and added these to the remaining full time employees. We also confirmed that the staffing in the other Sheriffs offices include dispatchers, like ours does. In the end, Osceola County has 22.6 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) employees. The other counties averaged 19.0 FTE. We have 3.6 FTE employees (19%) more than the average of these other small Iowa counties! By our estimate our excessive staff, salaries and benefits total over $230,000 annually. If other small Iowa counties do it for far less staff and money, why can’t we?

Iowa Governor Culver has just announced he is recommending no pay increases for non-unionized state employees for the coming year. See the article here. No raises! Many in state government will be glad just to keep their job! This comes when layoff notices at major companies are increasing in Sibley and throughout the county. We could soon be facing the situation we did in the 1980’s where the county had to levy local property taxes just to fund the normally state-funded homestead credits.

The Osceola County Compensation Board (Comp Board) is scheduled to meet 5:30 pm, January 14 at the courthouse. The Comp Board’s salary recommendations are taken seriously by the Board of Supervisors. The board of directors of the OCTA has asked to be placed on the Comp Board’s agenda. The county officials listed above will be there arguing for, what we understand, is a $2,000 pay increase for most of the county officials.

As President of the OCTA, I am planning to offer a firm and economically responsible recommendation to our Comp Board. But we need you at the meeting to show your support for taxpayers! Will you join us and let the Comp Board know with your presence that you agree with us? If you can’t make it, please call the following Comp Board members today and ask them to reign in the excessive county salaries and approve the OCTA’s proposal.

Comp Board members are Pam Vande Hoef 754-3893, Greg Kosters 754-2697, George Braaksma 754-2023, Barb Berkenpas 724-6104, Richard Bremer 758-3485, Ken Harthoorn 736-2524, and Harold Dawson 754-2517.

Further, the Supervisors will consider the Comp Board’s recommendations on Tuesday, January 20, 8:30 am. (Check our website for any final changes.) Please be present to show your support on behalf of the taxpayers there, too. Either we stand together or the local economy will deteriorate even faster under increasingly excessive government.

For further details on the reports above and more information on county government, check out our website at
For more timely updates email us at this link or indicate such on this form. and provide us your e-Mail address.

Finally, we’d greatly appreciate any financial support you can provide the Osceola County Taxpayers Association. We want to do more educational efforts, in light of the distressed local and agricultural economy. If you support our work, please send us a donation with this form.. (They are anonymous and not subject to any disclosure laws.) Make your non-tax deductible checks payable to the “OCTA”. Your support is greatly appreciated.


Kevin Wolfswinkel, President
Osceola County Taxpayers Association
5663 180th Street
Sibley, IA 51249
Ph 754-3489