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Lincoln County Commission Notes: Salary increases and highway relocation

Lincoln County Courthouse (SVI File Photo)

As usual, a large number of items were discussed during the recent Lincoln County Commission Meeting on Tuesday, May 7.

In what appeared to be a controversial vote on the stand, the commissioners voted 2-1 in favor of increasing the annual salary for the seat currently held by Commissioner Jerry Hansen for the seat’s upcoming term from 2025-2028. According to Commissioner Connelly, the commission is required to set the salary for each seat before the filing deadline on years that the seat is up for election. The seat currently held by Commissioner Hansen is the only one up for election this fall. Connelly clarified that the other two seats, currently held by himself and Commissioner Bowers, will also have a salary discussion in two years for the next election cycle, but the current salary change will only impact the seat currently held by Commissioner Hansen. The candidate filing period for the upcoming Primary Election is May 16-31.

Chief of Staff Stephen Allen presented two salary options to the commission. The first being to keep the salary of $39,812 annually unchanged. The second option was to increase to $50,000/year starting in January of 2025 for whomever occupies the position following the election.

Commissioner Hansen explained his position was to keep the salary unchanged and not provide the raise, arguing that the commission is currently the third-highest paid in the state, noting the recent hire of a chief of staff that has taken over many of the commissioner’s administrative tasks, and saying that many of the other county employees should receive raises before the commissioners. Commissioner Hansen made a motion to keep the salary unchanged, however the motion did not receive a second and failed.

Commissioner Bowers then made a motion to grant the increase in salary for the commission seat in question. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Connelly. No further discussion was given and a vote was taken, with the motion passing 2-1. Commissioner Hansen being the no vote.

Each commissioner was contacted by SVI News to provide further clarification on their reasoning for the vote. Commissioner Connelly responded by saying this is the first salary increase for commissioners in Lincoln County in 15 years and noting the hours he personally dedicates to the county as commissioner is often upwards of 60 hours per week. Connelly also noted the current salaries of some of the other full time employees of the county and said the salary increase will bring that specific commissioner seat closer to some of the other top paid positions.

During the meeting the commissioners also briefly discussed the proposal to relocate a portion of Highway 30 west of Kemmerer to allow for the expansion of the Kemmerer Coal Mine and other industry growth. The commission will continue to discuss the financial commitment the county will provide. The proposal remains in limbo as multiple entities discuss how to fund the project.

During the meeting Chief of Staff Sephen Allen also discussed the need to hire a Planning Director and the desire to promote from within the county staff. Mikayla Hibert was recently promoted to the position of Planner 1.

Regular monthly interviews from members of the Lincoln County Commission can be heard during the Weekday Wake-Up on SVI Radio. Commissioner Kent Connelly is scheduled for the next update on May 27. The interviews are recorded and made available for listening on-demand at SVInews.com, the SVI News App and the SVI Media Podcast channel on PodBean, Spotify and Amazon Music.

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