Anal­y­sis of pay re­veals huge raises for top Mesa County ad­min­is­tra­tors

The Denver Post - - NEWS -

GRAND JUNC­TION» Mesa County’s top ad­min­is­tra­tors re­ceived large pay raises this year, while rank-and-file work­ers have seen only slight in­creases, if any, over the past sev­eral years, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent anal­y­sis.

The Grand Junc­tion Daily Sen­tinel’s anal­y­sis of county salaries over nearly five years also found that county of­fi­cials in­ten­tion­ally kept dis­cus­sions about em­ployee pay away from the pub­lic and from the me­dia.

A com­puter database anal­y­sis of salaries for all county work­ers shows from com­mis­sion­ers on down, the county’s top three of­fi­cials saw dou­bledigit pay raises this year.

The big­gest went to County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Frank Whid­den, whose an­nual salary rose from $131,000 a year to $180,000 in 2018 — a 37 per­cent boost in pay.

Fol­low­ing Whid­den were County At­tor­ney Pat Cole­man and Pub­lic Works Di­rec­tor Pete Baier, who both re­ceived dou­bledigit per­cent­age in­creases. Cole­man went from an an­nual salary of $140,000 a year to $159,996, a 14 per­cent jump, while Baier was mak­ing $125,321 and now earns $145,332 a year, a nearly 16 per­cent boost in pay.

How­ever, Whid­den said there have been plenty of pay raises in re­cent years, most of which have come in the form of merit in­creases or bonus pay.

“There was a coun­ty­wide bonus paid in De­cem­ber of 2017 and only five em­ploy­ees did not re­ceive a bonus at that time,” he wrote in an email. “Dur­ing the re­ces­sion, the board au­tho­rized bonuses in some years and one coun­ty­wide raise that mostly af­fected low­er­wage staff in 2015 … an ef­fort at the time to raise the bot­tom of the salary struc­ture.”

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