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County committee to vote on nearly doubling its pay at surprise meeting



It’s not exactly a job they do for the money.

La Crosse County Board supervisors are paid $417 a month. A resolution being voted on Thursday morning by a board executive committee, however, would nearly double that total to $700 for supervisors and from $1,289 for the chair to $1,800 for the 2020-2022 term.


Long-time board member Ralph Geary came on La Crosse Talk PM yesterday, “unaware a raise of that magnitude was being proposed,” he told me.

Geary isn’t on the committee voting at 7:30 a.m. but he would be affected by it, of course. Asked if he’d show up for the vote, Geary said, “I might now.”

“Usually we’d do a wage study for about a year, before we’d move forward with any changes” he added. “Obviously, we haven’t done one. I’d be aware of that.”

Just hearing the news minutes before joining me on air, Geary said, “My initial reaction is I would not be supporting any kind of raises of that magnitude, unless there was so much overwhelming information that we were the lowest paid supervisors in the state.”

Geary said he was paid $125 a month back in 1976, when he started. He then described some things a board member might do to justify a salary.

Along with the regular planning meeting and county board meeting once a month, Geary is on the Public Works and Infrastructure committee, the MTU board in La Crosse and is a representative on the Neighborhood Revitalization committee.

“You have some other committee assignments,” he told me. “Those require you to do some work, some research and some dialogue with your constituents.”

I then said to Geary, “Then you have bums like me calling you 20 minutes before I go on air,” essentially springing the news on him, so he has no prep work.

“That’s fine,” Geary said with a laugh. “I was happy to hear from you. I didn’t know about this resolution so thanks for letting me know. I’ll be calling up tomorrow to find out what’s going on.”

Geary said when he first started, raises would happen every four years or so, and for something like $25 to $50.

“Then it’d sit for a number of years and we’d bump it again,” he said. “Awhile back, they just decided to move it with the employees pay raises. If the employees got two percent, we’d get two percent.”

Before that, however, Geary said they would conduct studies on what similar and adjacent counties were being paid before deciding on a raise.

“You’d see what they got paid, how many standing committees they had, other committees, what their compensation is, what their organizational structure is,” Geary said of counties, like Monroe, Vernon, Eau Claire. “Just how their county government functions. Try to get some similarities and good data but usually we’d do (that) study for about a year before we move forward with any changes.”

Another board member WIZM called also had no idea these raises were being proposed.

Listen to the full interview with Geary on the rest of Wednesday’s La Crosse Talk PM below.

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