Council OKs pay hike

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County > Administrator, attorney, DPU manager receive two percent raise

By Arin McKenna

At Tuesday’s Los Alamos County Council meeting, councilors voted 6-0 to award a two-percent pay raise to the county’s three contract employees: County Administrator Harry Burgess, County Attorney Rebecca Ehler and Department of Public Utilities Manager John Arrowsmith.

Councilor David Izraelevitz was unable to attend the meeting.

“All three of them have done exemplary, beyond expectations work, and we would like to give them more than we can,” Councilor Frances Berting said.

“We don’t want to give our contract employees more than we’re giving everybody else. As much as we’d like to give them more, we’re sticking to our premise of being fair across the board. We really appreciate their very hard work and excellent results throughout the county.”

Council voted during budget hearings to limit pay raises to a maximum of two-percent due to the county’s current budget crunch.

“We found a lot of progress, and we certainly appreciate the hard work we get and the cooperation we get and the support for the community, the council and the staff,” Councilor Rick Reiss said.

“Thank you for many hours beyond nine-to-five and getting the job done,” Councilor Pete Sheehey said.

“You all have an attitude of ‘we can work together and solve problems,’ and that has already paid off and things are going well, so please keep up the good work.”

“The two percent is a reflection of the budget environment, not how much we value the work that you’ve done. Most of you have been here less than two years, and the changes have been noticeable, so thank you.” Council Chair Geoff Rodgers said.

Before the raises, Burgess was making $166,345 per year, Arrowsmith was making $161,687 per year and Eiler was making $136,000 per year.

Council also voted 5-1 to appoint Stephen Tenbrink to the Board of Public Utilities, with Rodgers casting the single vote for the other candidate, Robert Wells. An interview committee comprised of Arrowsmith, Izraelevitz and BPU Vice-Chair Tim Neal recommended Tenbrink. Tenbrick replaces Glenn Woodwell, who declined re-appointment at the end of his five-year term.

Council also voted unanimously to establish an audit committee, something the Government Finance Officers Association has recommended since 1997. An audit committee facilitates communication between management, the auditors and the governing board and limits the reliance governing bodies must place on the technical expertise of an independent auditor.

The audit committee will be comprised of three councilors, the county administrator, the chief financial officer (currently Steven Lynne), the deputy utilities manager for finance (Robert Westervelt) and one member appointed annually by the Board of Public Utilities. Berting, Reiss and Sheehey volunteered to serve for the current year.

Council also voted to accept the resignation of Probate Judge Y. Ellen Hong and directed staff to return with a list of those interested in completing Hong’s term at the Aug. 13 council meeting. At that time, council will appoint a replacement to serve out the remainder of Hong’s term, which ends Dec. 31, 2014.

Next week’s work session in White Rock has been canceled. The next council meeting is at 12 p.m. July 26 in council chambers.