County approves new salary rates

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The Socorro County Commission approved new salary rates during its regular meeting Nov. 13.

The resolution states county officials beginning their new term after January 2013 shall be paid at the full rate provided by state statute. Those freshly adjusted annual salaries are:

  • $16,282 for countycommissioners.
  • $49,031 for the county treasurer.
  • $49,031 for the county assessor.
  • $51,277 for the county sheriff.
  • $49,031 for the county clerk.
  • $11,416 for the probate judge.

The resolution also states, per the state Constitution, salary increases for elected officials cannot become effective during the elected official’s term.

County Clerk Rebecca Vega said the county has not looked at salaries for its elected officials in over 12 years. She said many county employees’ salaries are surpassing the elected officials’ salaries in spite of the tremendous increase in officials’ liability and responsibilities.

“It’s not just a required eight hours a month anymore,” Vega said. “And I believe that we all deserve just to be looked at.”

Commission Chairman Daniel Monette said this is not merely a local issue; employees in many counties are paid more than the elected officials running their departments. He noted the salary increase is an option the county has every year, but the commission has not acted on it for at least a decade.

County manager Delilah Walsh said the numbers listed are the statutory allowances approved by state officials.

District 3 Commissioner Phillip Anaya said he would approve raises for the treasurer, assessor and clerk, but he didn’t know about raises for commissioners.

“Because we’re here to do a service for the people,” Anaya said.

Anaya said commissioners should look more at getting county employees raises, but he agreed offices such as treasurer, assessor and clerk should have raises.

District 5 Commissioner Juan Gutierrez said commissioners deserve a raise too.

“We go through a lot,” Gutierrez said. “It’s not like it used to be. It’s a 24-hour job.”

Vega said she and Walsh discussed the raises and determined they will come out of a cut somewhere else in the county’s budget, not increase the overall budget.

Walsh explained the pay increases only take effect for new officials as they take office. She said even if the elected officials are incumbent, they take office again in January. All others won’t be affected until they are up for election again.

In other business, the county:

  • Approved a request by Verizon Wireless to modify an existing tower. The company is replacing three cellular antennas at the top of a tower at 165 Camino Sabinal to expand coverage between Belen and Socorro.
  • Approved traffic safety project agreements for the sheriff’s office. According to the agenda packet, the sheriff’s office was awarded $11,776 to pay overtime incurred during Operation Driving While Intoxicated and $1,184 for Operation Buckle Down for fiscal year 2012-13 through the state Department of Transportation.
  • Adopted a code of conduct policy for county employees.
  • Pledged the commission’s support to the legislative priorities for 2013 proposed by the County Clerks of New Mexico. Those priorities include electronic voter registration at the Motor Vehicle Department; Uniform Military & Overseas Voters Act; voter enforcement; election code cleanup; voter verification; property lien notice requirements; marriage license procedures; and recording cleanup and recording index.
  • Approved a budget transfer request for the assessor’s office to hire a third temporary appraiser.