SHELTON - In a 2-1 vote on Tuesday, the majority of Mason County commission board agreed to increase pay for all elected county officials who weren't county commissioners.
Since 2016, salaries of the Auditor, Assessor, Clerk, Coroner and Treasurer have been 95% of the county’s highest paid commissioner. The commission board opted to match the salaries to the highest paid county commissioner which would increase their annual pay by a collective total of $31,821. As for Sheriff Casey Salisbury, his salary was roughly $20,000 less than the undersheriff and will receive $39,175 in additional salary to take his pay grade to 5% above what Undersheriff Travis Adams makes.
The pay raises will take effect on January 1, 2020.
Commissioners Kevin Shutty and Sharon Trask voted in favor of the pay increase but Randy Neatherlin was staunchly opposed to the idea of giving Sheriff Salisbury the raise.
“This is the largest pay increase for any elected official in county history,” said Neatherlin during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled commission meeting. “I don’t think anyone can justify an increase of that size,” “I think it’s special treatment, I think it’s offensive, I think it’s offensive to the community.” “I think we’re gifting public funds,” explained Neatherlin.
Prior to Neatherlin’s statements Mason County Undersheriff Travis Adams spoke in support of Salisbury’s raise.
“Some of the top deputies and supervisors make just as much as the sheriff. Not raising the salary is a disincentive to running for sheriff,” Adams said during Tuesday’s public comment period. Adams went on to say that paying the sheriff a salary of roughly $100,000 per year attracts under-qualified candidates or candidates who aren’t qualified at all.
In the 2018 general election, Salisbury’s opponent, Darrin Holland, was a real estate agent with a military background but no law enforcement experience.
Undersheriff Adams was asked about Neatherlin’s remarks opposing the sheriff’s pay increase.
“I think his opinion is very far outside of the mainstream.”
At the start of 2019, Mason County’s overall budget was $114,516,656.