Boots & Sabers

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2341, 09 Oct 19

Washington County Board Votes to Fleece Taxpayers

This stinks. Per the story earlier today from the Washington County Insider, the Washington County Board voted on the salary for the newly created County Executive position. The original proposal had the pay starting at $140,000 with annual increases taking it up to $148,569 in four years. For some perspective, here are some salaries for other County Executives:

Dane County – $134,218
Milwaukee County – $129,000
Waukesha County – $108,826
Fond du Lac County – $108,100
Winnebago County – $115,800
Brown County – $98,046
The Governor of Wisconsin – $146,786

Well, they had the vote and the Washington County Insider was all over it. After several failed votes to lower the pay, they ended up passing a resolution with a compensation of $140,000 for all four years. So the pay is still outrageously high compared to other county executives, but there isn’t a structured pay increase.

This is a fiscally irresponsible and outrageously arrogant decision by the County Board. They have been complaining about the county’s finances for years. They claim that they can’t give up the sales tax revenue. They need to implement fees to enter the county parks. This very day, they narrowly defeated another fee for POWTS, but only after sustained public outrage. And yet they have this kind of cash to throw at a County Executive? Ridiculous.

Go read the comments from Supervisors in the story at the Washington County Insider. In particular, I’ll call out my County Supervisor:

Supervisor Mike Bassill – “The pay is going to be higher than the other county executives in Wisconsin; including Milwaukee. We came to the conclusion that their contracts – when they get up for election theirs will be going up. We’re still going to be saving around $35,000 than what we’re currently paying the county administrator presently, with the $140,000. I wasn’t 100-percent on board but after reflecting on the Executive Committee meetings I think it’s the right scale. Correct, it will be more than what the governor makes in four years. That’s what we decided.

Bull, Mike. A County Executive role is not comparable to a County Administrator role. They have different requirements and different duties. The taxpayers are going to be overpaying for a County Executive and you voted for it. Shame on you.

And County Board Chairman:

Supervisor Don Kriefall – “Right now as I understand it the salaries range from around $108,000 to $139,000 from looking at… a lot of the county executive salaries were set. I’m thinking the most recent one was set in the early 1990s.  All those were set also a long time ago and have not been adjusted for inflation.”

Again. Bull. Even with those salaries set in the 1990s (allegedly), the other counties don’t seem to have a problem attracting good candidates. There’s no reason to overpay for the position.

Behind all of this is that the current County Administrator, Josh Schoemann, has declared that he is running for the office.  Many of the county board members like him – after all, they voted to hire him in the first place – and support him. This has all of the stench that they set the pay so high to keep Schoemann whole if he wins the job. In doing so, they might have killed his chance to win it. If another credible candidate gets in the race, they will beat Schoemann like a rented mule with this issue… and win.


2341, 09 October 2019


  1. RandyK

    Again,keep in mind who you so strongly supported in the 4th district race. Can you tell me something your guy has accomplished?

  2. Owen

    I was wrong. It isn’t the first time. It won’t be the last.

  3. ChrisJenkinsWB

    First off, to be clear… I voted no on having the County Exec in the first place. Timing was off, rushed, and I felt our current model of government could work if the correct people were in place – despite this, democracy spoke, and we have a County Exec.

    I also voted in favor of the lower salary amendment, but once again democracy spoke, and it failed. In the end, this is still a net decrease of ~$56k from what our Administrator is getting paid (according to information provided), and while I was not thrilled about the $140k number as some others were, I was willing to compromise.

    The bigger answer to your statement Randy, is you can gladly have the County Board seat come April…

    The County Board and the processes within, are one of the most inefficient bodies I’ve ever seen or had to work within. It is a virtually unknown body of government, with way too many members, and lacking a consistent and statutorily-prescribed leader. …Don’t even get me started on even accessing the County email in an efficient manner…

    Long story short, I unfortunately have not enjoyed my term on the Board. I’ve let many know of this over the past year or so, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise, and I will not be running for re-election. An official letter will come out to this effect in November with more detail, but just thought I’d let you guys know ahead of time.

    Good luck to Randy, or whomever wishes to run for the seat, I hope your experiences there are better than mine have been.

    (Also for the record, Owen did not endorse either of us as candidates for the County District #4 race in 2018)


  4. jjf

    Lots of critics, few volunteers to do the job.

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