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Grand Forks County cutting pay for new sheriff, state's attorney

Grand Forks County will cut salaries of the incoming sheriff and state's attorney by several thousand dollars each in 2019. Both salaries were lowered by 6 percent, said Debbie Nelson, the county finance and tax director. Current Sheriff Bob Rost...

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The Grand Forks County Office Building, photographed on November 23, 2015, houses many essential departments and offices for services crucial to the well-being of both Grand Forks, ND as well as the surrounding community.Photo by Nick Nelson for the Grand Forks Herald.

Grand Forks County will cut salaries of the incoming sheriff and state's attorney by several thousand dollars each in 2019.

Both salaries were lowered by 6 percent, said Debbie Nelson, the county finance and tax director.

Current Sheriff Bob Rost makes $114,402. After Jan. 1 the sheriff would make $107,538, according to the county auditor's office.

State's attorney David Jones makes $137,942, and the position will make $129,665 in 2019.

This decision was made because the incoming sheriff or state's attorney will not have as much experience as the current position holder. This will be a policy that will be looked at for future candidates on a case-by-case basis, said County Government Relations Administrator Tom Ford.

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"We knew that no matter who won the race this year, they wouldn't have the same experience level as the incumbents who are retiring," Ford said. "The finance committee felt that the salaries should be adjusted."

Andy Schneider, who has been with the sheriff's office for 12 years, and B.J. Maxson, who has been with the sheriff's department since 1992, are the two candidates for county sheriff. Nancy Yon, with the state's attorney's office since 2000, and Haley Wamstad, with the state's attorney's office since 2008, are running for state's attorney.

Candidates said that they were running for office regardless of the salary.

Wamstad, currently an assistant state's attorney, said she understands why the county decided to decrease the pay.

"In both cases, state's attorney and sheriff, you are going from someone who is in the end of their career to someone who is in the middle of their career," Wamstad said. "The county needs to be prudent with taxpayer dollars, and we want to be fair and reasonable to the taxpayers."

Yon, who is also an assistant state's attorney, echoed her opponent's comments.

"I still think it's a good salary," Yon said. "And I understand that it's the duty of the commission to spend taxpayer money responsibly and conservatively."

Maxson, a lieutenant, agreed that the most important thing was that taxpayer money was spent wisely.

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"Obviously it's a little disappointing, but I understand that if the incoming sheriff isn't as experienced as the outgoing sheriff, it makes sense," Maxson said. "And if (the commission) can put that extra money back into the community, it's a good thing."

Schneider, a sergeant, said that the cut was a little surprising.

"I do find it intriguing that they're changing it, because the job isn't changing, it's only getting harder, it's just interesting" he said. "But at the end of the day, I'm not doing this for the salary."

Regardless of the adjusted salary for both positions, Ford said, whoever wins will receive a considerable pay bump to the new position.

Both offices will be on the ballot on Nov. 6.

Related Topics: GRAND FORKS COUNTY
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