FARGO — On the heels of an in-depth salary study by a consulting firm, the Cass County commissioners on Tuesday, Sept. 8, approved an increased pay scale and raises for five top-level positions and a new added payroll clerk position.

The decision followed an earlier meeting on Tuesday where a personnel committee, including all of the commissioners and other members, also unanimously approved the new pay scales.

Earlier this year, the board voted against any cost of living increases for employees but adopted a new pay "matrix" suggested by Gallagher Consulting with step increases that more accurately matched pay for similar jobs in the city and region.

In that study, they found that some of the top county officials were 16% to 34% below median pay for similar jobs in the city and region.

The new pay scales will be for the veterans service officer, human resources director, information technology director and county recorder.

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The board also debated whether to hire a full-time county coroner to replace Dr. James Baird, who was doing the job on a part-time basis for 37 years.

There was talk of expanding the local coroner's office to do autopsies in Fargo instead of at the University of North Dakota Medical School in Grand Forks or in Bismarck. But Commission Chairman Chad Peterson that would require a salary for such a forensic pathologist of perhaps $200,000 or more.

With the new full-time position, the county may drop one of the two deputy coroner positions. The new coroner will be paid between $71,452 and $107,176 under the new job description prepared by Baird for the full-time job. Baird retired Aug. 31.

Deputy Coroner Kriste Ross is serving as interim coroner until a permanent replacement is hired.

The new pay ranges for the other jobs approved are:

  • Veteran services officer, $68,565 to $102,854.
  • Human resources director, $74,325 to $111,490. This position was 34.4% below market median in the study.
  • Information technology director, $82,249 to $123,379. Salary for the position was 21.4% below the market median pay.
  • County recorder, $71,452 to $107,176. This salary was previously found to be 16.7% below market median. This change sets the pay for this position equal to the county's tax equalization direction, one of the most similar positions within the county.
  • Payroll clerk: This is a new position with a salary that will range from $41,735 to $57,637.

County Finance Director Mike Montplaisir said the raises will be effective Jan. 1, and the raise for each job will be at the step closest to what the officials are currently making.

Thus, raises for Jan. 1 for the four positions, except county coroner, will total $28,274, with the highest raise for the veteran services officer of $9,324. Other pay raises are $7,734 for the IT director, $5,819 for the county recorder and $5,394 for the human resources director. The county has set aside $100,000 to address the positions.