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HB 1071 Seeks County Commission Salary Cap

Six Republicans in the State Legislature have forgotten the party mantra of local control. Rep. Ed Van Gerpen (R-19/Avon) has floated House Bill 1071, which would cap the salaries of county commissioners at 50% above the state-specified minimum. SDCL 7-7-5 currently sets default pay for county commissioners on a four-step scale that increases with population. HB 1071 would set the maximum here in Lake County at $8095.50. In Minnehaha County, the maximum would be $10849.50.

According to their December 21, 2010, minutes, Lake County commissioners currently receive an annual salary of $10,348. According to Minnehaha County's January 4, 2011, minutes, commissioners receive $25,450.88.

Correction! I originally included a paragraph about the inconsistency of Republicans specifying a minimum wage for commissioners. However, I based said paragraph on a misreading of SDCL 7-7-5. As sharp-eyed reader Michael Black points out in Comment #1, state law currently establishes default salaries in case county commissioners fail to specify salaries for themselves. I regret the error!

I'm surprised that these Republican legislators aren't letting folks decide their own county commission salaries at the local level. State law leaves it to local government to determine the salaries of municipal officials and utility board members. The state does, however, cap per-diem compensation for school board members.

So how much is good government worth to you? If we want to pay our Lake County commissioners twice the minimum specified by state law, is that anyone's business but our own?


  1. Michael Black 2011.01.23

    The law doesn't give a minimum. It does specify a salary based on population if they commission fails to set a salary. See the wording below.

    Salary of county commissioners. The board of county commissioners may determine the salary of the commissioners. Such salary may be set by the board of county commissioners at its first regular meeting of each year. If the board of county commissioners fails to determine a salary, then the salary of a county commissioner in any one year is:

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.01.23

    Good point! My apologies for the misread. I shall reflect the correction above. So we could ask our commissioners to work pro bono....

Comments are closed.