Douglas County Rethinks Pause On Sheriff’s Salary Increase
Not so fast! An earlier decision to pause the salary increase for the sheriff's position is now being re-evaluated by the Douglas County Board. The proposed four year freeze on any increase has been lifted, and the matter has been channeled back to committee for reconsideration.
It was two weeks ago that the committee and the county board moved to put a freeze on the sheriff's position for four years. At the time, officials cited a survey that was taken of all of the counties in Wisconsin. That survey discovered the fact that the Douglas County Sheriff's position is currently paid more "than what the same position commands across the state". That survey detailed that the "average sheriff in Wisconsin earns $62,000 per year - almost $30,000 less than what Douglas County is paying" at $90,361.
However, outgoing Douglas County Sheriff Tom Dalbec disagrees that the salary is above par from what law enforcement positions in the area are paid. According to an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall], Dalbec made his case to the Douglas County Board:
"Sheriff Tom Dalbec presented the board with information that showed his salary is less than most law enforcement leaders in the area. He also pointed to the fact that if the salary proposal were to go into place [the four year freeze], the sheriff in Iron County, which has a population of 6,137, would earn more than the Douglas County Sheriff by 2026."
In comparison, Douglas County's current census population is 44,295.
Dalbec continued his case, adding that it wasn't a personal situation for him; he wouldn't benefit from any raise passed by the county board for the position:
"I have no dog in this hunt. I'm done at the end of this term. But when I found out that the administration committee recommended a 0% increase for the next term for sheriff, I was shocked, a little bit upset. I think it's downright foolish when you have the third least populous county in the state of Wisconsin, Iron County, that sheriff will be making more than this sheriff at the end of this term."
Additional collateral information compiled by Sheriff Dalbec and presented to the county board details that his position "earns less than the Superior Police Chief and Assistant Chief, and sheriffs in St. Louis and Carlton counties in Minnesota".
As for the salary comparison to Iron County, Douglas County Supervisor Alan Jaques said that "he saw it as an outlier". Nonetheless, after discussion, his vote went along with the rest to "refer the matter back to the administration committee". The committee will reconsider the salary amount (a raise or a freeze) and then let the full Douglas County Board make a "final consideration [on April 14]".