Flathead County

County Commission Approves Cost-of-Living Increases

County employees will receive a 4% pay raise, deputy county attorneys approved for a 9% pay bump

By Micah Drew
Flathead County Courthouse on Main Street in Kalispell pictured May 4, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Flathead County Commissioners unanimously voted Tuesday morning to increase the salaries for the county’s elected officials and employees by 4%, with the exception of the county attorney, who will receive an 8% bump. The move follows the recommendation of the county’s compensation board, which suggests the base salary for elected officials. The commission sets salary levels for the county’s remaining employees itself.

The annual increase is the largest cost-of-living (COLA) adjustment since 2008, outside of a mid-year 4% county-wide raise the commission passed in January 2022, which was specifically aimed at addressing hiring and employee retention at countywide agencies, according to Human Resources Director Tammy Skramovsky.

Employee hiring and retention is still a problem in the county, specifically in the attorney’s office. The commission also approved adjusting the deputy county attorney base pay matrix and added two new positions. Skramovsky told the commission pay for the positions was “falling behind the market.” The base pay matrix for deputy positions was increased 5%, on top of the COLA increase, adding $68,000 to the county’s budget for the next fiscal year.

“I know the county attorney is having some retention issues similar to what the sheriff and 911 is having,” Commissioner Pam Holmquist said. “It’s just the way it is right now. The county, in order to keep good employees, is going to have to keep up with that somehow.”

Two deputy county attorney positions were approved by the commission to help alleviate increased workload in the department following Flathead County’s addition of a third district court judge, Danni Coffman, this year.

Commission chair Brad Abell said the vote was necessary to deal with both the increased case load and crime in the county. “We need to keep up for public safety. We’re falling behind and we’re rectifying that with adding these new positions.”

County officials’ salaries following the COLA adjustment are:

  • Clerk of District Court: $84,514
  • County Treasurer/Assessor: $84,514
  • Justice of the Peace, Dept. 1: $97,381
  • Justice of the Peace, Dept. 2: $97,381
  • Clerk/Recorder/Surveyor: $84,514
  • County Commissioners: $84,514
  • Sheriff /Coroner: $110,699
  • Superintendent of Schools: $84,514
  • County Attorney: $136,393