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Analysis of pay shows huge raises for few in Mesa County

Posted at 12:48 PM, Nov 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-06 14:48:43-05

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) — 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 the media.

A computer database analysis of salaries for all county workers shows from commissioners on down, the county's top three officials saw double-digit pay raises this year. The biggest one went to County Administrator Frank Whidden, whose annual salary rose from $131,000 a year to $180,000 in 2018, a 37 percent hike.

Following Whidden were County Attorney Pat Coleman and Public Works Director Pete Baier, who both received double-digit 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 hike.

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 lower-wage staff in 2015 ... an effort at the time to raise the bottom of the salary structure."

A database supplied by the county showed only total pay for all workers combined, separating base pay with other one-time payments and comparing salaries from a single monthly pay period ending in early January 2015 with one monthly period last month. That database did not break down compensation by individual workers. Consequently, it was impossible to see just how much individual workers were making, or who received raises and who didn't.


Information from: The Daily Sentinel,