Investigating Jackson County Salaries

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders slashed next year's budget by $15 million. Fewer dollars will go to homeless assistance programs and county roads, but more money will go to certain county employees. FOX 4's Mitch Weber looked into the raises and discovered some pay packages come with perks.

Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders hasn't accepted a raise since taking office in 2007. During his first two years in office not one county employee got a raise, but that is changing. All county employees can now qualify for a three percent merit raise. Besides receiving a merit raise, select employees in the County Executive's office also get a cell phone and car allowance.

At his State of the County Address earlier this month, Sanders announced a $308.7 million budget for 2012, $15 million less than the year before.

"Because we've shrunk county government very frugal with the dollars, we have enough money therefore with tax revenues slightly up for us to give merit increases," he said.

But only if employees meet county performance standards.

"Give high raises to those who perform highly, less to obviously those who don't and that's how it is done," Sanders said.

In the County Executive's office, Calvin Williford, Fred Siems and Shelley Temple-Kneuvean made the high performance requirements, but their three percent raises also include a $55 monthly cell phone allowance and $600 monthly car allowance. Sanders argues an allowance is a better investment than owning county cars.

"If you have a high amount of driving, but if you factor in cars driving, gas, insurance, everything that is involved in the job, ultimately that is $600 is a savings to the taxpayers over time," Sanders said.

Williford drives a used county-owned vehicle, which he is taxed on. He does not get a car allowance. But Siems and Temple-Kneuvean drive their own cars and receive $600 a month for their car allowances, which they are also taxed on. So, when you factor in the merit raise and the allowances Siems and Temple-Kneuvean receive between an eight and nine percent salary hike.

"This really is investing in the high performers that we have in the county cause we want to make sure we keep the best and brightest we have," he said.

Every year since taking office in 2007 Sanders has refused an automatic raise. That money he would have received now goes to one of 100 charities in Jackson County. This is the second year the county has handed out raises. The merit raise is not a cost of living increase.

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