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Scott County Supervisors Ponder Pay and Tax Hikes

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Scott County supervisors are weighing a budget of nearly 90 million dollars for fiscal year 2020. Among the questions they debated at a meeting on Tuesday were salary raises for top elected officials.

A compensation board had made the recommendation to raise the Scott County sheriff's salary by 20 percent and the county attorney, auditor, recorder and treasurer to 15 percent.

Members of the board, made up of representatives of each of the elected officials, compared the Scott County sheriff's salary to those in other counties as well as to area police chiefs and sheriff's officials.

Supervisor Brinson Kinzer says he has reservations about a double-digit increase for the sheriff when rank and file employees including union members are having their wage hike proposed at 2.25 percent.

"Leadership starts at the top. We should make sure men and women are taken care first, before other folks are getting a raise," he said.

But he supports Sheriff Tim Lane's request for additional staff.

"The sheriff has a better pulse on public safety than five Scott County board members," he told WQAD.

Under the sheriff's plan, the county would add five correctional officers, four deputy sheriffs and make a full-time permanent sex offender registry specialist.

Scott County Attorney Mike Walton's office is requesting an investigator dedicated to reviewing video footage to help prosecute crime.

Supervisor John Maxwell suggested that some of the personnel should be temporary rather than on a permanent payroll, so supervisors would have more time to study the impact.

"Let's give the sheriff the personnel, so we're all safe. And let's do a study to validate that that personnel is the number he needs," he said.

The salary hikes and additional staff make up the bulk of the $6 million increase in next year's proposed budget. The county is looking to raise property taxes for additional revenue.

"The salaries are low. Now for me, I want to get there over time. I don`t want to do a 'bang.'" Maxwell said.

That "bang" could add up to Scott County homeowners paying more: $18.47 more in taxes for a home assessed at $100,000.

It would be the first levy rate increase in a decade. Maxwell said he prefers to keep taxes low.

"That`s an ouchie. Let`s make it a very slow process," he said.

But a decision could come quickly. County staff will now be drafting a couple of budget recommendations to address supervisors' concerns.

Another public hearing is set for Thursday afternoon and supervisors could vote to adopt a budget at that time.

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