Comp Board - With Greg Kosters Leading The Way - Approves Irresponsible Salary Increase Recommendations

In a 5-2 vote the Osceola County Compensation Board approved a 5.3% increase in annual salary for county elected officials. There was one exception. The Sheriff received a 7.5% increase. The two dissenting board members were the two representing the Supervisors - George Braaksma of Sibley and Barb Berkenpas of Ashton.

OCTA President Kevin Wolfswinkel gave an excellent statement to the Comp Board before their vote. See his statement here. It soon became clear that the majority of the Comp Board members had their minds made up.

In response to Wolfswinkel's statement, Comp Board member Harold Dawson questioned as to where Wolfswinkel got his authority to compare our county salaries to counties in Southern Iowa. Dawson challenged the comparison because he has experience with negotiating union contracts, and union arbitrators won't allow comparisons outside this region. Wolfswinkel's responded that the OCTA used Iowa counties similar in size, taxable base, and income to ours and that we wouldn't be using liberal union negotiators for our standard.

The OCTA would also encourage Comp Board member Dawson to look up the very Iowa Code which charges him with his duties on the Board. The OCTA found the authority Dawson was missing there. Iowa Code 331.907 (1) says "1. ...The county compensation board annually shall review the compensation paid to comparable officers in other counties of his state, other states, private enterprise, and the federal government."

The code says they should compare with other Iowa counties, other states and even the federal government! And this is precisely what the OCTA did - compare to Iowa counties our size. Two of them in our comparison are in Western Iowa, not Southern Iowa as Dawson asserted.

Should a local attorney who doesn't know the Iowa Code governing the Comp Board's activities, even be serving on it?

Why was comp board member Dawson, a local attorney, more willing to cite the well-known brow beating tactics of liberal labor unions, over the very Iowa Code which governs the board's activities?

County Attorney Loses His Cool

The Osceola County Attorney attempt to discredit our research was delivered with such an angry voice it was hard to take seriously. The public present were provided copies of his evidence "disproving" our study. Though he had several copies in hand left over after he had distributed them through the crowd (mostly county employees), it was noted that the County Attorney walked past all those affiliated with the OCTA and would not provide them a copy. As the meeting was adjourning and his recommended pay raise of $3,526 was secured, he then raised his voice again and apologized for previously sounding so angry. His wife heard it and apparently told him he should apologize.

The Osceola County Sheriff played an audio recording of an interview he conducted with a former deputy, who has now moved to Spencer to work for their police department. In the interview the deputy acknowledged that his gross pay was less than what he was receiving in Osceola County. The Sheriff played it to prove this deputy didn't leave for less money. But again, the former deputy admitted he was receiving less gross pay. The deputy also stated his net pay was more because the city of Spencer wasn't taking out social security tax deduction. What the Osceola County Sheriff failed to mention is that if this former deputy is being responsible and placing the same amount of withholding into his own private retirement fund, then even then his net take home would be less also. The Sheriff never explained what proving his deputies were leaving for less money had to do with him needing a nearly $4,000 raise. Keep in mind our recenlty published survey found he is already making $6,400 over what his peer Sheriff's, in similar sized Iowa counties, are making.

See Greg Koster's disquieting letter of recommendation, to be presented to the the Board of Supervisor's Jan. 20, 2009, meeting here.