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Supervisors Change the Way They’re Paid

The Door County Board of Supervisors has passed a new pay structure based on an annual salary rather than per diem rates.

Supervisors will be paid $7,500 annually in 12 equal, monthly installments. Those who conduct a public hearing during a committee meeting can claim an additional $25 per hour, and all supervisors can be reimbursed up to $1,500 for expenses related to authorized conferences and training. Mileage is paid separately for each mile traveled from either a supervisor’s residence or work location within Door County. 

The county board chair currently receives $12,000 annually, and that will not change. Neither will the annual $8,500 salary for the vice chair. The salary structure will not take effect until after the April 5, 2022, election, when all supervisor seats are up for reelection.

Supervisors are currently paid on a per diem basis, meaning they are paid only when they’re “on the clock” for county business, including portal-to-portal pay (driving time) to attend a meeting outside the county. 

That was the way several supervisors thought it should remain, including Supervisor David Enigl, who said the new pay would be a raise for him of 38%, and that is “just not appropriate,” he said. 

The new structure is not a pay increase for everyone. During the past four years, the average county board supervisor’s pay has been $6,830 (2020), $6,568 (2019), $6,447 (2018) and $7,166 (2017). 

That highest-year average in 2017 was because of no changes on the board and no resignations, said Steve Wipperfurth, county finance director. The range that year was $4,158 on the low end and $13,073 on the high end – and that high-end figure was for a supervisor’s pay, not for the county board chair or vice chair.

The wages portion of the county board’s budget for 2022 was $181,325 under the existing structure. The total budget, including travel and training, is $279,153: an 8.8% increase over 2021. The fiscal impact of the salaries and $1,500 expense cap is $163,000. 

The board has discussed salaried compensation in the past without successfully passing the measure. This year’s discussion began during the August meeting. On Nov. 9, the move to the salary structure passed 16-5, with Supervisors David Englebert, Dave Enigl, Ken Fisher, Todd Thayse and Richard “Biz” Virlee voting against it.

Fisher said he’d liked wages better because “you get paid for what you do,” and Englebert said he thought the $7,500 annual amount was “excessive.” 

Those who voted for it said they all made decisions on the same issues and should be paid the same. They also considered the salary an incentive for those who may want to run for office but were unsure how to make up for lost wages or added child care expenses.  

“We’re having a hard time getting people to run for election,” said Supervisor Dale Vogel. “If you say it’s not compensation, to a certain extent, the compensation does make sense and is important to people.”

“For attracting good people, this is important,” said Supervisor Elizabeth Gauger. “I do not feel this is a huge ask.”

Two votes failed to amend the salary to $6,500 the first time, and $7,000 the second time.

County Administrator Ken Pabich said the county developed the $7,500 salary by looking at the pay that Sturgeon Bay Common Council alders receive and the averages for all county board supervisors during the past four years. City alders currently make $7,800 annually, following a pay bump they received this year. The mayor’s position currently receives $10,200 annually, but that will change after the April 2022 election to $11,400.

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