SPOKANE, Wash. – People in Spokane County have some concerns about the salary increases for county commissioners.
A KREM 2 viewer emailed us and said he believes Spokane County Commissioners have received two, 19 percent salary increases in the last five years but county employees have only been offered a three percent salary increase. There was also concern about Spokane County being compared to King and Pierce counties to gauge salary increases. So, we set out to verify those claims.
County Human Resource Director Tim Hansen said the county commissioners do not decide on their own salaries but a 10-member panel called the Citizens Committee on Salaries does. The most recent meeting the committee held was in March 2017 when it approved a 19 percent salary increase. This bumped the board's annual pay to $110,693. Hansen said this salary increase happened 11 years after the board's last salary increase to $93,000. So, we can verify the board has not received two 19 percent salary increases in the last five years but rather one increase in 11 years.
As for county employee salary increases, Hansen said those are negotiated privately with respective unions. For example, Hansen said throughout the last 10 years, courthouse employees saw salaries increase annually by as much as 3.5 percent. We cannot verify how this applies to all county employees because salary increases vary among employees.
Then there is the question of what counties Spokane was compared to in determining salary increases. Hansen confirmed the Citizens Committee compared Spokane County to similar counties, which include Benton, Kitsap, Thurston, Clark and Pierce. The committee looked at what those counties pay their commissioners and took the average to determine Spokane's salaries. We can verify the committee did not compare Spokane County salaries to King county. If it did, they would have found a much higher average.