Waupaca County supervisors voted Tuesday, Sept. 20, to increase their per diem pay.
Prior to Tuesday’s vote, County Board members were paid $55 per day for attending one meeting.
If the meeting ran more than four hours, or if a supervisor attended a second meeting, supervisors received an additional $25.
In August, the Waupaca County Executive Committee voted to recommend raising supervisor’s per diem pay to $60 and pay $30 for any additional meetings, up to a total maximum of $120 per day.
The committee also recommended increasing the county board chair’s salary from $8,000 per year to $9,000 per year.
In presenting the ordinance amendment to increase the per diem amount, County Clerk Mary Robbins noted that the supervisors’ last raise had been 12 years ago.
Several supervisors spoke against voting to give themselves a pay increase.
“I think this is very bad timing with the way the economy is,” said Supervisor Don Morgan, of Weyauwega.
Supervisor Dave Johnson, of Waupaca, also questioned the timing of the raise.
“We have county workers who need to pay more for their benefits, and we have county departments that were required to have 0 percent increases in their budgets,” Johnson said.
Supervisor DuWayne Federwitz, of rural Clintonville, said that while the additional $5 represents a 9 percent raise over 2010, it represents a small annual increase over the past 12 years.
“Evidently, in good times you don’t think county supervisors deserve a raise, and in bad times you don’t think supervisors deserve a raise. So, when do you think you deserve it?” Federwitz said.
County Board Chairman Dick Koeppen said the average county supervisor makes a little more than $2,500 per year in per diem compensation.
“They’re not in it for the money,” he said.
According to county finance records, Waupaca County made a total of $98,490 in per diem payments in 2010 for a total of 1,855 meetings.
The county’s per diem totals include citizen committee members, as well as county supervisors.
The five supervisors who received the most per diem payments in 2010 were Koeppen, Gerald Murphy, Jack Penney, Bob Flease and Gary Barrington.
Koeppen received $6,000 for attending 136 meetings in 2010, in addition to his $8,000 salary as chairman.
Murphy received $6,330 for attending 118 meetings. Penney received $5,100 for attending 94 meetings. Flease received $4,825 for 89 meetings. And Barrington received $4,785 for 90 meetings.
Eight of the county’s 27 supervisors made more than $4,100 in per diems last year.
Several board members said their responsibilities include more than attending county meetings.
“It’s not just the meeting, it’s the preparation that you have to do before the meeting,” Supervisor Pat Craig, of Royalton, said.
She pointed to the multiple reports, budgets, memos and correspondence that supervisors must study prior to each monthly board meeting, in addition to the work they do preparing for committee meetings.
Craig also noted that the increase would not take effect until after the next county board election – in April 2012.
The county board voted 20-6 in favor of increasing supervisor pay.
Voting against the raise were supervisors Donald Peterson, Joe McClone, Gerald Murphy, Bob Ellis, Dave Johnson and Don Morgan.