Mesa County officials hid pay raise discussions from the public and news media

The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): Mesa County’s top administrators received hefty pay raises this year while rank-and-file workers have seen only slight increases, if any, over the past several years.

An analysis of county salaries over nearly five years, some of which came through a Colorado Open Records Act request by The Daily Sentinel, also found that county officials intentionally kept discussions about employee pay away from the public and press.

According to a computer database analysis of salaries for all county workers, from commissioners on down, the county’s top three officials saw double-digit pay raises this year. The biggest one went to County Administrator Frank Whidden, whose annual salary soared from $131,000 a year to $180,000 in 2018, a 37 percent hike.

Following him were County Attorney Pat Coleman and Public Works Director Pete Baier, both of whom received double-digit percentage increases. Coleman went from an annual salary of $140,000 a year to $159,996, a 14 percent jump, while Baier was making $125,321 and now earns $145,332 a year, a nearly 16 percent hike.

An analysis of all other county workers turned up some increases over the past several years, but they were relatively low, averaging $1 to $2 extra an hour. About 22 percent of them have not seen a pay hike since 2015, though some did receive one-time bonuses during that time.

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