PHILIPSBURG – Approximately 20 citizens attended a Granite County Commissioner session Tuesday regarding the establishment of a base pay for Road Supervisor Paul Alt.
Alt had approached the commission about his coming off the probationary period he was hired under in
May 2017. At that time the commissioners stated they hired Alt at approximately $56,000 a year and put him on a one-year probation, which would have ended in May 2018. However, due to both Alt and the commissioners being busy, neither got around the having his annual evaluation until recently.
The request by Alt is to establish a base pay rate for the position that is commensurate with similar counties around the state. The commissioners handed out a sheet showing comparative pay rates for other counties, but a majority of those in attendance were not convinced that those comparisons were relevant to Granite County.
The session opened at 11 a.m. sharp and quickly saw Commissioner Scott Adler make a motion to table a vote on the establishment of the base pay for the Road Supervisor until January 15, 2018. Slaughter seconded the motion and after an hour of public comment, the motioned passed 2-0 with outgoing commissioner Bart Bonney not in attendance.
The proposed change would increase the position’s pay to $70,000 a year. When added to the $15,000 that Alt receives for also acting as the Waste Management Supervisor and then tossing in the benefits package he receives for both, Alt will be making approximately $114,000 a year.
One speaker, former Granite County Commissioner Susie Browning, stated that she felt the comparison pay rates that the commissioners provided were irrelevant to the pay rate being discussed.
“There are lots questions on here that we need to find out about,” said Browning, referring to the pay rate comparison sheet. “I look at these counties and it does not show what the value of a mill is in those counties in comparison to ours. It also doesn’t show how many road employees that person supervises or how many miles of roads are being maintained.”
Browning’s questions can be answered to a degree by several State of Montana departments. The Department of Revenue has tax information for 2016 available on its website, showing the average mills paid per property owner in each county. Among the 10 other counties listed as comparable by the commissioners, Granite County ranks sixth.
When making a comparison of square miles in each county, Granite ranks ninth of the 11 counties while its pay would rank them fourth.
When asked about what the total affect on the budget would be, Commissioners Adler and Slaughter stated they could not give attendees that amount just yet as the exact motion as to what Alt’s new base pay might be hadn’t been made yet. However, they did agree to get residents what the total increase would be if Alt were given the $14,000 increase plus the associated benefits.
Several speakers were concerned about where money would come from for the raise in the Road Supervisor’s base pay. Slaughter told the crowd that during the fiscal year that Alt had helped bring in portions of more than $600,000 through projects that the county either performed or supervised for outside agencies like the United State Forest Service. Slaughter indicated that the monies would be left in the road fund until the end of the fiscal year and that some of the money may be reapportioned to other budget areas.