Without hesitation, Douglas County Commissioner Jerry Rapp made the motion to keep salaries and per diems the same for county commissioners in 2020.

His motion was approved with a 5-0 vote at Tuesday afternoon's budget meeting. Next year, the five county commissioners will receive the same salary – $29,000 – as they did in 2019 and in 2018, and they will also receive the same per diem, which was set at $100 in 2018. Per diems are paid out for committee meetings that commissioners attend.

In addition to setting their own salaries, commissioners approved the 2020 salaries for each of the elected officials – auditor/treasurer, county attorney, recorder and sheriff.

  • Attorney Chad Larson’s increase is 2 percent. His salary will go to $122,400, up from his 2019 salary of $120,000. He made $106,000 in 2018, $103,400 in 2017, $98,500 in 2016 and $95,595 in 2015.
  • Auditor/Treasurer Char Rosenow’s increase for 2020 is 6.5 percent. For 2020, her total salary is $116,000 – $108,000 for her role as auditor/treasurer and $8,000 for her role as finance director. In 2019, her total salary was $108,900. Her salary was $103,940 in 2018, $97,000 in 2017, $91,875 in 2016 and $87,500 in 2015.
  • Recorder Mary Skillings' salary increased by $3,000, or 5 percent, to $63,000. When she took office in 2018, her salary was $60,000.
  • Sheriff Troy Wolbersen received a 2 percent increase with his $2,400 increase. His salary in 2019 was $120,000 and his salary for 2020 will be $122,400. He made $115,000 in 2018, $102,000 in 2017, $98,000 in 2016 and $93,000 in 2015.

Other budget items

In addition to salary increases, the commissioners approved several other budget requests for 2020, including allocations of:

  • $138,314 to the Viking Library System. This is a 2 percent increase over 2019.
  • $258,834 to the Douglas County Soil and Water Conservation, with $12,503 of that amount coming from a state water grant. This is the same amount as in 2019.
  • $8,250 to West Central Initiative, an increase of $250. Rapp was the only commissioner to vote no for the increase.
  • $45,000 to Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission, a decrease of $2,692.

Each year, the commissioners also allocate funds to the Douglas County Historical Society. This year, the non-profit organization requested $20,000.

Rapp made a motion to deny the request and allocate the same amount as was given in 2019, which was $12,000. His motion failed by a vote of 3-2. Rapp and county board chairman Charlie Meyer voted in favor of the $12,000 amount, but commissioners Heather Larson, Tim Kalina and Keith Englund voted against it.

Englund then made a motion to allocate $15,000 instead, and it passed by a 3-2 vote. Englund, Kalina and Larson voted for the increase, while Rapp and Meyer opposed it.

Commissioners also approved a wage grid for employees who aren't represented by a union, which includes a 2 percent cost-of-living increase. The grid represents the annual wages for those who are paid based on what grade and step they are at. For instance, if an employee is at a grade 12, step 5, they will be paid an hourly rate of $33.24 in 2020. There are 23 different grades and 10 different steps. The example is about the middle of both.

The grid was approved by a 4-1 vote, with Larson voting no.

The board will take action on more budget items, including allocations for the Alexandria Area Chamber of Commerce and Pride of the Lakes, at its Sept. 3 board meeting.