OKLAHOMA COUNTY (KFOR) – Oklahoma County officials declined to vote on a measure, Thursday, to raise their own salaries, citing legal concerns.
There hasn’t been an increase in pay for over a decade, because county commissioners wouldn’t vote for it.
A new law that went info effect Nov. 1 states that now all eight county leaders that make up the budget board, instead of just the three county commissioners, make that decision.
County Clerk David Hooten put the item on the agenda so the budget board could decide on it.
“If you pay yourself less than you’re supposed to or you pay yourself more than you’re supposed to, both of those are equally wrong. I want to pay us what we’re supposed to be paid and that’s all I’m trying to do, and I can’t do that without the budget board telling me what that number is,” he said.
Commissioner Brian Maughan doesn’t think a pay raise is necessary.
“I’ve always said I will never vote for a pay increase,” Maughan said.
County officials currently bring home $105,262 a year. Now the question is if they legally accept a $13,000 pay hike.
“This is public service. If people come here to work, this is not where they should expect to get rich,” Maughan said.
Hooten says he just wants to find a fair rate based on property value and population.
“All I’m trying to do is set that value, what it is. I’m not saying what it should be or what it is; I’m sure that will be cleared up very soon,” he said.
Also at issue is the fact that staff members can’t make more than officials.
“We’re paid plenty for what we do. They’re talking about, ‘Well we need to increase the salary for our employees.’ I think comparably speaking to other government agencies, we’re paid pretty comparable,” Maughan said.
“I think we’re worth much more than we’re being paid, but that’s for the budget board to decide,” Hooten said.
“We have many excellent county employees and officials who deserve better pay, and I am very open to a pay raise for them. I will not vote to raise my own pay,” Commissioner Kevin Calvey said.
Hooten says the issue will be back on the agenda after the county’s legal adviser gives an opinion on the matter.
Commissioner Carrie Blumert was unavailable for comment.