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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015

County elected officials get raises


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BROOKSVILLE - The majority of elected Hernando County constitutional officers will receive $4,500 salary hikes this year.

The state legislature approved 3.72 percent pay raises for state employees and that will be reflected in the paychecks of local officers.

County commissioners will see pay raises of $2,300.

The state of Florida sets the salary parameters for elected officials and bases it primarily on county population. In general, the more people, the bigger the paycheck.

But Hernando County only increased its population by 26 people from last year. The county has 173,104 people, up from 173,078 from 2012.

Small population increases in the last five or six years have meant small salary increases for elected officials. And with the population not expected to go up drastically, it is unlikely those salaries would rise too much in the foreseeable future.

So when the Florida Legislature decided to give state employees their first raise in five or six years, the salaries of Hernando County employees went up correspondingly, said Steven O'Cain, senior legislative analyst with the Office of Economic and Demographic Research.

The formula used to compute raises hasn't changed, O'Cain said. It's just that the state-approved employee raises were built into the mix for the first time in years.

That's why Hernando County commissioners' salaries will rise from $62,579 to $64,912.

The salaries of Circuit Court Clerk Don Barbee, Property Appraiser John Emerson and Tax Collector Sally Daniel will increase annually from $120,619 last year to $125,109.

Sheriff Al Nienhuis' pay increased from $129,215 to $134,025.

Supervisor of Elections Shirley Anderson's salary increased the least: from $102,555 to $106,372.

The salaries of all five elected school board members will increase from $33,191 to $34,426.

By contrast, the average private sector employee's wage is $30,357, according to data from the Pasco-Hernando Workforce Board. The average county and city worker (including firefighters and law enforcement) is $46,229 and the average school employee wage is $36,277.

Circuit Court Clerk Don Barbee said payday was Thursday and the raise should show up in his bank account. Barbee said he had no idea he was getting a $4,500 increase but assumes there is logic behind the process.

Because it is set by the state he has no control over the salary, he said.

"I've never looked at it, I don't know how it works," he said.

County Commissioner Jim Adkins said he finds it hard to believe that legislators would be more generous with elected officials' raises when the state continues to suffer through economic hard times.

"They must have some pretty good politicians in Tallahassee," he joked.

Adkins said he will follow suit with his colleagues on the commission and the elected officials as to whether he will keep the raise or donate all or part of the hike.

(352) 544-5290

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