By Nathalie Hardy • Columnist • 

Commissioners compromise on planner's salary

After some discussion and negotiation, they agreed to give Brandt a 5 percent raise to $91,362, retroactive from Jan. 1, and shift 5 percent into a deferred compensation account, effective next Jan. 1.

Brandt started with the county in 1978 and, except for a brief break in the late 1980s, has been with the county ever since. He has spent the last 16 years heading the planning department.

He accepted a 5 percent raise last year, but had not accepted one previously since 2006, because he felt he needed the money to fund operations and personnel in his department.

Commissioner Mary Stern, who serves as liaison to the planning department, proposed a 10 percent catchup raise this year because his salary had fallen below that of other Yamhill County department heads and of planning directors in counties of similar size. But Commissioner Allen Springer, the board’s newest addition, balked.

Stern termed Brandt a major asset she didn’t want to lose. She said he had recently received three recruitment pitches, one of them at a starting salary of $125,000. 

“Luckily, Mike is happy here and does not want to leave,” she said. But if he did leave, she said, the county would have to pay his successor a competitive wage, and it would be muchmore than he’s currently making.

Springer agreed that Brandt was turning in a “stellar” performance in planning. But he said he found a 10 percent raise hard to justify, particularly when Brandt got a 5 percent boost just last year.

“I like Mike as well as anybody, so he would know this isn’t a personal thing,” Springer said. “After getting a 5 percent raise last year, a 10 percent raise now is difficult for me because of what’s happening in the private sector.

“People are working extremely hard and not making the money they were making. It would be difficult for me to sign off on another 10 percent raise, just because of that factor.”

Commissioner Kathy George said, “I appreciate his treatment of citizens and how he is setting a culture in there that is unprecedented in the state. I think he deserves whatever we can agree on.”

And that figure turned out to be 5 percent in straight salary, to be converted into deferred compensation next year.

Brandt said he didn’t instigate the salary discussion and didn’t want to be involved in it. He said he preferred to keep his focus on doing his job and looking out for his staff.

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