The cost of adding more County Commissioners
Cost to taxpayers for additional salaries and to hold a Special Election
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
Original post March 29, 2011 | Updated April 1, 2011
Editor's Update, 4/1/11: This article was updated to add in Readers's Comments. Scroll to the end of the article to read these comments.
A petition is being circulated asking Sublette County citizens if they would like to see the number of Sublette County Commissioners raised from the current three to five. The question is being spearheaded by Pinedale citizen Paul Rock, who is hoping to see the matter placed on the ballot in the November election.
The push was triggered as a response to the March 1, 2011 County Commissioner’s meeting when Commissioner Joel Bousman was out of town in Washington D.C. to testify before the House Natural Resources Committee during their committee hearing about Secretarial Order 3310, and Commissioner John Linn was in the hospital recovering from injuries from a snowmobile accident, leaving new Commissioner Andy Nelson alone to conduct the meeting. Without at least two commissioners present for voting, no business was able to be conducted.
Ignoring the debate over ‘should we or shouldn’t we’, Pinedale Online asked Sublette County Clerk, Mary Lankford, how much each commissioner is paid and how many times in the last five years we have had the situation where we didn't have at least two Commissioners at a regular meeting and weren't able to make decisions and conduct business?
Mary Lankford: "Each Commissioner receives $32,500 in salary, mileage to and from the meetings, and their personal health insurance. Their spouse/family can be added at their own personal cost. Their actual travel expenses to County/Commissioner related meetings are reimbursable."
Current total salary for the three commissioners is $97,500/year. Adding two more commissioners would add $65,000/year. That would raise the taxpayer expenses for county commissioners to $162,500/year for commissioners’ salaries, plus their benefits and travel expenses.
Regarding the March 1st commissioner meeting and how many times there was lack of a quorum for a meeting, Lankford added, "I have been here 25 years, and the 3/1 meeting was the first time, ever, in my experience. If we would have had more notice than 8 p.m. on Monday night, we would have moved the meeting to another day that week to accommodate the public."
In order to increase the Board, the petition needs to have 10% of the ballots cast in the 2010 General Election---which is 351. The process is in Title 18 of the Wyoming State Statutes under County Commissioners (http://legisweb.state.wy.us/statutes/statutes.aspx).
The cost to the taxpayer for a special election will be between $8,000 to $10,000.
Friday, April 1, 2011: "Dear Pinedale Online Editor. Thank you so much for the recent Pinedale Online article about the cost of adding more Sublette County commissioners. What a bargain! Folks wanting to go to five commissioners, especially we here at the Go To 5 Petition Drive offices, are jumping up and down with excitement that we can gain so much more citizen representation and financial oversight for such a small expenditure. Given the enormous amount of money currently flowing through Sublette County, I’ll bet two more county commissioners can save us that much money on their first day! Thanks again for your help! For more information about the Go To Five Petition Drive, call Paul Rock at 367-2117 or email email@example.com." - Paul Rock, Executive Director, Go To 5 Petition Drive, 307-367-2117