Pay for public servants ranges from nothing to six figures

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As would-be candidates consider whether to run for political office this year, one consideration can be, “how much money am I going to make?”

Pay for the positions that will appear on local residents’ ballots this year varies widely. Serving as a member of Wyoming’s Congressional delegation, for instance, brings a standard salary of $174,000, while local city council members — who are paid per-meeting — take home a few thousand dollars per year.

Meanwhile, those who serve on the boards of special districts, overseeing local schools, hospitals, cemeteries, fire departments and others, receive no pay for their work.

Benefits for the various positions can also vary. For instance, the governor is provided with a home while members of Congress get extra money to send mass mailings to their constituents.

Effectively all of the elected officials are reimbursed for their travel and nearly all of them receive some kind of health insurance and retirement benefits.

Here’s a brief, simplified overview of the elected officials’ pay and benefits. Keep in mind that the quality of the insurance and retirement plans can be significantly different:

Congress — $174,000

Salaries for members of Congress have remained unchanged since 2009, according to information compiled by the Congressional Research Service. A pay scale adopted years ago calls for annual pay increases, but the House and Senate have consistently stopped them from going in effect, most recently in March.

Senators and representatives do receive health insurance benefits, with 72 percent of their insurance premiums generally picked up by the U.S. government. Federal lawmakers can become eligible for some retirement benefits once they serve five or more years in office.

Statewide officials — $92,000-$105,000

Pay for Wyoming’s governor, secretary of state, treasurer, superintendent of public instruction and auditor has stayed flat since 2003. A bill to raise their pay made it through a committee hearing in the Wyoming Legislature last year, but the measure was never put to a vote before the full House.

The state government pays roughly 85 percent of the officials’ health, dental and life insurance. Like other state employees, they become eligible for some retirement benefits after serving for four or more years.

County positions — $36,175-$95,000

Unlike other positions, state law requires county commissioners to set the salaries for their county’s elected officials — attorney, assessor, clerk, sheriff, treasurer, clerk of district court, coroner and commissioners — every four years. Last month, Park County commissioners left their pay flat, but approved roughly 4.7 percent raises for most county officials and an 11 percent bump for the county attorney. Those changes were aimed at bringing the salaries closer to what Wyoming’s larger counties are paying. Meanwhile, the pay of the county coroner was roughly doubled to ensure that the position is appealing to applicants.

Currently, 100 percent of the county elected officials’ health insurance premiums are paid by taxpayers. The officials are a part of the Wyoming Retirement System, and like state employees, it takes four years of service before they qualify for any retirement benefits.

Wyoming Legislature — $16,400

State lawmakers do not receive a set salary while serving in Wyoming’s “part-time citizen legislature.” Instead, senators and representatives are paid $150 per day.

Pay varies between lawmakers, depending in part on which committees they serve. Legislators on more committees or on busier ones wind up working more and, in turn, earning more money.

Outside of the one-a-year session, lawmakers are generally paid $300 per month (more if they’re in a leadership position). They collect the $150 per day salary for interim committee meetings, plus an extra half-day salary to prepare for those meetings and, sometimes, another half-day’s salary for travel.

Lawmakers also receive $3,000 per year as a “constituent service allowance.” That allowance is intended to reimburse lawmakers for the trips and appearances they make in serving constituents across their district.

Senators and representatives do not receive health insurance or retirement benefits.

City of Powell — $4,500-$13,200

The current pay for the mayor of Powell ($13,200 per year) and the city council ($110 per meeting) was set by councilmembers back in 2008.

Beyond being paid for the city’s regular, twice-a-month meetings, councilmembers are appointed as liaisons to various boards — such as the planning and zoning committee or tree board — and are paid for attending those gatherings, too. Just like state legislators, how much a council member earns depends on which committees they’re assigned to and attend.

Also like lawmakers, the part-time city councilors and mayor do not receive health insurance or retirement benefits.

Special district — $0

Northwest College, Park County School District No. 1, Crown Hill Cemetery, the Powell Volunteer Fire Department, the Powell Clarks Fork Conservation District and, in part, Powell Valley Healthcare, are among the local school, college and special districts overseen by publicly elected board members.

None of the officials are paid for their work.

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