The same day a Senate committee approved immediately increasing the lodging and meal per diems for legislators, they voted to increase the annual salary of every county elected official, even though most of those increases will not take affect for nearly four years.
On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted in favor of HB2700, which provides a one-time $20,000 raise to boost the annual salary of county assessors, attorneys, recorders, sheriffs, superintendents of schools, treasurers, and board supervisors. It will be the first salary increase for those key elected county offices since 2007.
But the raise isn’t effective until Jan. 1, 2025.
Under HB2700, a sheriff’s annual salary will increase in 2025 to $120,824, no matter how big of an agency the sheriff oversees. For instance, Graham County Sheriff P.J. Allred serves less than 40,000 residents, but makes the same salary as Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, who heads an agency which serves nearly 4.5 million people.
In several counties, deputies actually make more money than their sheriff due to overtime and special projects such as the Operation Stonegarden federal grant program.
The bill’s $20,000 raise for the state’s 15 county attorneys will see their annual salary grow to $143,678, but again it will be irrespective of population or workload.
A $20,000 raise will also be granted to county assessors, recorders, treasurers, board supervisors, and superintendents of schools, although those salaries are impacted by population. The annual salaries for those office holders in counties with 500,000 or more residents will go up to $96,600, while counties with populations under 500,000 will see a raise to $83,800 for those offices.
HB2700 also adjusts salaries for the state’s 15 clerks of the superior court, but on a much smaller scale and a different schedule.
Starting Jan. 1, 2023, clerks of court with a population of 500,000 or more will receive a $1,532 raise to $78,132. Those in the smaller counties will receive a $1,276 raise to $65,076.
Then starting Jan. 1, 2024, the annual salaries for clerks of the superior court will automatically increase by two percent each year.
One thing not yet certain is whether Pinal County officers -except for sheriff and county attorney- will qualify for the higher of the two population-based pay scales. That is because the U.S. Census Bureau currently shows Pinal County with an estimated population just shy of 463,000 as of 2019.
Once the 2020 Census Report is released later this year it could reflect a large enough population growth to boost county officials to the 500,000 population tier.
The full Senate must vote on HB2700 next week, followed by a final vote in the House. Gov. Doug Ducey is expected to sign the legislation.