Wisconsin State Journal Editorial 
"Six Dane County Supervisors Say 'No' to 33% Pay Raise"
Nov. 29, 2016

Credit Dane County Executive Joe Parisi for vetoing his own pay raise last week.

Unfortunately, he failed to veto a 33 percent increase in compensation for the giant Dane County Board.

Just six supervisors voted “no” on what will be a $2,700 raise, to $10,900 annually, over three years. Those who showed some fiscal responsibility were Sups. Pat Downing of Blanchardville, Ronn Ferrell of Madison, Tim Kiefer of Waunakee, Dave Ripp of Waunakee, Mike Willett of Verona and Danielle Williams of Cottage Grove.

Their constituents should applaud them.

A modest raise might have been in order, given that the board hasn’t had an increase since the 2008 recession. But they don’t deserve a hike of this magnitude — especially given the County Board’s enormous size. With 37 members, the board is one of the biggest in the nation. And its unwieldy size dilutes its profile and influence.

Parisi expressed “serious concerns” about pay raises for county politicians, given uncertain state and federal funding, which could lead to cuts in services. Besides a 33 percent boost for supervisors, the board chairperson will get a 40 percent increase, from $37,000 now to $51,500 by 2020.

“The last thing the county’s elected officials should be doing right now is giving themselves a raise,” Parisi said.

The county executive nixed a proposed 8 percent increase in his annual salary of $134,000. He said he didn’t reject the board’s 33 percent increase because supervisors approved it with a veto-proof majority of 26 votes. A two-thirds vote of 25 or more board members is enough to overturn a veto.

We get Parisi’s point. But public pressure could have convinced some supervisors to rethink their positions. At $10,900, Dane County supervisors will earn more than their peers in Waukesha and Brown counties, which operate with smaller boards.

The total annual cost of the supervisor raises — about $112,000 — is tiny compared to the larger county budget. Yet that cost is on top of board salaries now totaling more than $330,000 a year.

Many supervisors work hard for their constituents. But the post is supposed to be about public service, not the money.

A 33 percent raise is excessive. More than six supervisors should have understood that.

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