Garfield County workers to receive 5% mid-year pay bump |

Garfield County workers to receive 5% mid-year pay bump

Wage hike incorporates Sheriff’s Office request

Non-elected Garfield County government employees will see their second 5% pay boost this year, as the county tries to stay competitive in the labor market among public entities amid the ever-rising cost of living.

County Manager Kevin Batchelder and Human Resources Director Diane Hayes recommended to county commissioners Monday that county workers receive a mid-year pay hike of 4% across-the-board, based on a recent market study.

Commissioners took it a step beyond and approved the 5% raise.

Hayes said the current labor market and wages being offered by the county’s nearest competition for workers are unlike anything she’s seen in 35 years.

“We are a little late to the game,” she said. “But we have been trying to be very thorough in our research and wanted to be patient and make sure this was not a blip.

“It’s not a blip. This looks to be an ongoing trend.”

Last week, commissioners heard from Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario, who requested a 7% mid-year raise for his deputies and other sheriff’s department employees.

Commissioner Tom Jankovsky on Monday convinced fellow commissioners John Martin and Mike Samson to meet in the middle and enact a 5% raise across the board.

“I do think we have to be competitive,” Jankovsky said, adding that combined with a “good benefits package,” the raise should also help the sheriff’s department in its hiring.

County workers were given a 5% raise to start the year as part of the approved 2022 county budget. 

The mid-year raise will cost county taxpayers another roughly $1.25 million, Batchelder said. However, that cost is currently being offset by several vacancies across multiple county departments, accounting for more than $3 million, he said.

While some of those positions may be recouped with the pay increase and a subsequent adjustment to the county’s wage scale, at a cost of about $15,000, the reality is the number of unfilled positions is likely to increase, Jankovsky said.

“Our employees are having to carry that load,” he said.

Prospective new hires are also demanding a higher wage before accepting a position with the county. 

Also on Monday, Community Development Director Sheryl Bower received permission to exceed the pay range for a new county planner with 20 years of experience. That will cost the county an extra $6,000, she said, but could also have ripple effects in terms of any equity adjustments that might need to be made for existing employees.

Several top-level county positions are vacant or about to be, including a new county manager to replace Batchelder, who recently announced his retirement effective in September. County Attorney Tari Williams also confirmed Monday that she is leaving in August to take a job as senior legal counsel for the North County Transit District in San Diego County, California. In addition, the county is still looking for a chief building official and finance director.

The wage market study found Garfield County to be an average of 5% below market compared to other area government-sector workers, said Jessica Roberts, compensation and benefits manager for the county.

The county’s top wage earners are now 11% below the market, she said.

“We are seeing that in new requests for pay increases and equity adjustments,” Roberts said. “This (mid-year increase) is one way to adjust that.”

As the process starts to craft a 2023 county budget, commissioners acknowledged that another pay adjustment may be necessary come the first of the year.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.