Bourbon County sheriff says pay raise is too large

Sheriff Bill Martin talks about his recent raise with county commissioners

At a recent Bourbon County, Kansas commissioners meeting, Sheriff Bill Martin made it clear he feels his recent pay raise is too big.

“I do not agree with that at this point in time,” said Martin at the meeting.

Last month, County Commissioners voted to raise the pay of all Bourbon County elected officials for the first time since 2014. That included a roughly $16,000 bump in pay to Sheriff Martin who feels it’s too much, too fast.

“With the amount that I received, I didn’t think that was right based on information I’ve heard in the past from commissioners in regards to the financial issues Bourbon County was faced with.,” said Sheriff Martin.

Sheriff Martin also wonders about the creation of some new county jobs, specifically the counselor to the commissioners and one related to Bourbon County economic development.

“And with that being said or with those positions being created, where did all this money come from when you’ve been telling elected officials and the public, ‘The county’s broke, the county’s broke,'” said Sheriff Martin.

But county commissioners don’t agree with the sheriff on how they’ve referred to county finances.

“When you say that we say ‘We’re broke,’ we asked people to watch their budget and what they’ve been budgeted for. We don’t say we’re broke. Every year in August and September, I always put out, ‘Watch your budgets because we’re probably going to be close,” because we budget close and that’s by design,” said Bourbon County Commissioner Lynne Oharah to Martin at the county commissioners meeting.

And as for that roughly $16,000 sheriff’s raise, county commissioners say the move was made to make Bourbon County elected official pay comparable with those of neighboring counties.

“We used the data that’s collected, and we realized that the salary the sheriff was receiving in Bourbon County was about two and a half standard deviations from the rest of the counties that we looked at,” said Bourbon County Commissioner Jeff Fischer to Martin at the county commissioners meeting.

Sheriff Martin and the commissioners ended the meeting agreeing to disagree. The sheriff says in the future, he hopes county elected official pay increases will happen on a much more gradual scale and with more meetings between the commissioners and those affected.