- Written by John Plestina
Roosevelt County Commissioners approved a $300 monthly stipend for all permanent non-elected county employees, Tuesday, July 22, but excluded themselves and all elected officials following a citizen complaint.
The stipends are above and beyond the employees salaries and are intended as an incentive to remain on the job. The county has had difficulty retaining sheriff’s deputies and employees of other departments, especially on the east end of the county where the cost of housing is high.
Wolf Point resident Bill Juve said if the commissioners and other elected officials receive the stipends, the county’s compensation board should approve the stipends before the commissioners vote on them.
Juve cited roads that need repair, an issue he said should come ahead of stipends. He mentioned Rodeo Road several times. Juve has asked for repairs to Rodeo Road in the past.
Two compensation board members’ terms expired July 1 and the commissioners must reappoint them before that board could meet with a voting quorum. The earliest date that could happen is Tuesday, Aug. 12.
Assistant county attorney Jordan Knudsen will research whether the law requires the compensation board to make a recommendation on stipends for elected officials. If Knudsen determines that the compensation board does not have to weigh in on the decision, the commissioners could revisit the stipends for elected people as soon as Tuesday, July 29.
The stipends are tied to oil industry severance revenue funding. If the county’s revenue from the oil severance tax drops below an average of $400,000 per quarter, the stipend will cease.
“This will give our employees a very much deserved raise,” commissioner Gary Macdonald said. He added that the commissioners have the ability to discontinue the stipends if the severance revenue decreases.
A decision on the stipends had been delayed from Tuesday, July 15.