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Washington County approves salary hikes for department heads

Washington County Commissioners approved 5 percent pay raises for top department heads while freezing their own salaries last Thursday.

Commissioners praised the work of County Attorney Pete Orput, Sheriff Bill Hutton and Administrator Molly O’Rourke before unanimously approving the measures.

Orput received a 5 percent increase equal to $142,590 annually.

Commissioner Gary Kriesel listed new initiatives that Orput has implemented over the past year, which include working with truant students and veterans as well as reaching out to various nonprofit groups.

“Just very impressed with what Pete has done in his department,” he said.

Orput’s first assistant will receive an increase as well and salary of $128,331, while his executive assistant follows with a 2.5 percent increase, bringing her salary to $53,810.

Hutton also got a 5 percent raise and a salary of $142,590, along with his chief deputy at $128,331.

Commissioners supported the salary bump, recognizing Hutton’s involvement in the community and work with various outside contractors to provide squad equipment.

“His years of experience far exceed what most counties have,” Commissioner Fran Miron said.

Kriesel echoed Miron’s comments and added that Hutton “isn’t sitting on his hands, he’s constantly looking for ways to improve public safety.”

The board unanimously approved another 5 percent pay raise for the administrator at a salary of $154,989.

Commissioners said O’Rourke has taken on many challenges since becoming the administrator two years ago.

She worked on the redistricting of the county, guided the board through the recession and provided guidance through the budget process, Kriesel said.

Miron said her salary is on the low end compared to other Twin Cities metro counties and an increase “helps maintain some equity and competitiveness in the market.”

Commissioners, on the other hand, did not give themselves a raise keeping their salaries frozen for the fifth year.

Each commissioner will continue to receive $52,713 annually. The county’s 2014 budget, which was set to be approved Tuesday, includes all of the salary changes.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.