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Residents Protest 25 Percent Pay Raise for Elected Officials

FORSYTH, Mo. - Protesters took to the Taney County Courthouse Monday morning, just days before voters will head to the polls.

FORSYTH, Mo. -- Protesters took to the Taney County Courthouse Monday morning, just days before voters will head to the polls.

Protesters say they are against the recently approved pay raise for elected officials in Taney County and Presiding County Commissioner Ron Houseman.

Taney County resident Steve Maxwell says he is hoping to raise awareness leading up to the primary election, and help hold County leaders accountable.

"We were kind of in shock that anybody would every receive such a raise as 25 percent," says Maxwell. "We probably could have handled five percent, but 25?"

Maxwell says he is also protesting Presiding County Commissioner Ron Houseman, who was absent when the County's Salary Commission approved the pay raise.

"Although he was conveniently absent when the commission met, he was asked by Chuck Penell, our county assessor, to reconvene the salary commission," says Maxwell.

"The only person that could do that is the Circuit Clerk, under statutory law," says Houseman.

"I did talk with a vast amount of officials in the County courthouse, and they were not going to change the position they had taken."

Houseman says he was in Iowa during the vote, because he resides on the executive committee at the National Association of Counties.

The Presiding County Commissioner also says he was surprised by the Salary Commission's decision.

"When I heard it was 25 percent over the phone I said, ‘you mean 2.5 percent’ no the answer was 25 percent," says Houseman.

The raise only affects new elected officials paid by the county starting in 2015. For example, commissioners who are elected would see their salary go from $53,000 to just over $66,000.

"We have people working two or three jobs trying to make ends meet," says Maxwell. "They're not getting a raise, certainly not a double digit raise."

Maxwell says he also doesn't approve of the timing of the raise, something Houseman agrees with.

"The timing was not good," says Houseman. "The timing is probably not appropriate and yet the act was taken. This group, my opponent and his supporters, are trying to tie me to that, and I had nothing to do with that."

Some supporters of the pay raise say that it would put the salaries of elected County leaders on the same level as other "First Class" Counties in the state.

Last December, one Taney County commissioner told KOLR10 News that the reason for the increase was to "entice people to run for office... because the County government is competing with the private sector."


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