Three Oklahoma County Commissioners, the court and county clerk, treasure, assessor and sheriff will receive a $17,000 pay raise following a Wednesday morning special meeting.
“This being done on Christmas Eve Eve, I think stinks to high heaven,” Commissioner Brian Maughan said.
“The optics are horrible, and we all are aware of that,” County Clerk David Hooten added.
Maughan and Commissioner Kevin Calvey voted against the raise, a representative for outgoing Sheriff P.D. Taylor abstained from the vote. Hooten, Commissioner Carrie Blumert, Treasurer Butch Freeman, Court Clerk Rick Warren, and Assessor Larry Stein voted in favor.
It’s the first raise for county officials in 12 years, taking their annual pay from $105,000 to more than $122,000.
Supporters of the raise said it benefits not only themselves but also county employees. Salaries for county staff are capped at that of their department’s elected leaders.
“County government is the only government that I know of that the salary we make establishes a cap for what the rest of the people can make,” Freeman said.
“This insinuation that we’re doing it for the employees is just garbage,” Maughan said. “They’re so few employees that’s going to be impacted by this. It’s just the top, top paid staff members which are underneath the elected officials by a dollar.”
“(There’s) a calculation set by law that determines what the maximum salary is and for 12 years we haven’t had any adjustments,” Stein said. “These calculations are very precise, and they’re based on the size of the county.”
Tulsa County has followed the salary adjustment recommendations with annual increases. Elected officials in Tulsa County are paid $111,000.
“If you oppose this, that’s fine. You don’t have to take the raise; you can leave it on the table.” Stein told his colleagues.
“I’ll donate the entire bit of that raise to charity locally,” Calvey said.
“I’m not backing away from it,” Freeman said. It’s a pay raise and I will be taking it.”
“I’d say merry Christmas,” Maughan ended the meeting. “But you guys just wished yourselves a merry Christmas.”