SPARTA—The Monroe County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution increasing supervisors’ per diem payments during the board’s meeting Wednesday at the county courthouse.

The resolution increases the supervisors’ payments from $40 to $50 for committee meetings and from $50 to $75 for county board meetings.

This is the first time per diem payments have increased since 1997.

The resolution passed 12-4, with supervisors Paul Steele, Cedric Schnitzler, Mary Von Ruden and Mary Cook dissenting.

In addition, the board approved a resolution increasing the salary for the Monroe County Board chair and vice-chair positions. The salaries haven’t been increased since 1997 and 2000.

The chair’s salary will increase from $4,000 to $4,800 and would establish a vice-chair salary of $2,400 in addition to the per diem allowance. The resolution passed 11-5, with supervisors Steele, Schnitzler, Von Ruden, Cook and Doug Path dissenting.

The salary adjustments will be effective April 21, 2020.

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Supervisor Paul Steele said the supervisors shouldn’t be giving themselves raises.

“Who are we to give ourselves a raise? The voters should decide this,” he said. “I won’t support this in any way. Our employees in this county, we can’t find people, we can’t retain people. They’re underpaid now, and we’re going to give ourselves a raise? It’s a slap in the face.”

Supervisor Dean Peterson said the increase may be needed to entice and retain board members. He said serving on the county board requires a significant time investment.

“I don’t think I’m going to run next year, and even if you doubled it, it doesn’t pay enough for the time we put in to take off work,” he said. “To get qualified people, we’re going to have to do something.”

Steele said it doesn’t matter that being on the board takes up a lot of time. He said it’s a consideration that shouldn’t matter to board members.

“I think everybody on this board, future, past, present, you don’t do this for the money, you shouldn’t be here for the money, you should be doing it to serve your community,” he said.

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Meghan Flynn can be reached at meghan.flynn@lee.net.

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