Kitsap Caucus

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Pay increases planned for judges, county prosecutor

August 22nd, 2013 by brynn grimley

Brynn writes:

Kitsap County finances appear to be stabilizing. County commissioners are in the process of negotiating new contracts with all employees covered by a collective bargaining unit, and although the meetings are conducted behind closed doors, commissioners have said publicly they’re offering a 2 percent cost of living adjustment for this year and next.

Pay raises are also coming to Kitsap’s District and Superior Court judges, the respective courts’ commissioners and Prosecuting Attorney Russel Hauge. The raises are on the county commissioners’ consent agenda for approval at the board’s regular meeting Monday night. The increases — there’s two — take effect Sept. 1, 2013 and Sept. 1, 2014.

Part of the resolution also restores the formula for how the prosecutor’s salary is calculated. Pay for the elected position is tied to the pay scale set by the state for Superior Court judges. All of the county’s non-judicial elected positions were once tied to this pay scale but in 2008 commissioners froze the pay of the assessor, auditor, clerk, coroner, prosecutor, sheriff and treasurer.

Recognizing the tough financial situation facing the county, the elected officials requested the freeze. At the same time county commissioners (and other elected officials) opted to pay for their health care premium expenses to find additional savings. County commissioners can’t change their salaries while in office, so this how they were able to reduce their overall pay. This practice continued through 2011.

The resolution set for approval Monday will return the pay of the prosecutor to a rate that is equal to the pay of a Superior Court judge. The county pays half the prosecutor’s salary and the other half is reimbursed by the state. It’s the same for Superior Court judges — the county pays half of the salaries and the state reimburses the other half. The only salaries covered in full by the county are for the District Court judges and commissioner and the Superior Court Commissioner. The court commissioner positions are set at 90 percent of the Superior Court Judge’s salary.

Here’s the breakdown of what the judges and Hauge are paid annually and the proposed increases:

Current pay:
  • Superior Court judges: $148,844.80 (Kitsap County portion: $74,422.40)
  • Superior Court Commissioner: $133.947.90
  • District Court judges: $141,710.40
  • District Court Commissioner: $127,545.60
  • Prosecutor: $147,759.20 (State reimbursement: $74,422.40)

Proposed increases for 2013, 2014: (The first number is for 2013, the second for 2014)

  • Superior Court judges: : $151,809 (Kitsap County portion: $75,904.50); $156,363 (Kitsap county portion: $78,181.50)
  • Superior Court Commissioner: $136,628.10; $140,726.70
  • District Court judges: $144,544; $148,881
  • District Court Commissioner: $130,090; $133,993
  • Prosecutor: $151,809; $156,363

For comparison sake, the county commissioners — whose salaries are the same — make $112,049.60 a year as of Jan. 1, 2013. Under state law commissioners can’t change their salaries while in office, but they can change the salary for the next term. The salary for Brown’s position, along with the other county elected officials, are up for review either later this year or next year. The salaries must be set before the election.

It’s likely these positions will see a 2 percent cost of living increase similar to what is being negotiated with employees covered by a collective bargaining unit.

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