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Summit County considering 10 percent cost of living increases for staff

The Summit County Council is considering whether to offer its staff of 365 employees a 10 percent cost of living increase.

The Summit County Council is in the middle of its annual budgeting process and will be considering whether to offer its staff a 10 percent cost of living increase —about a $3 million annual added expense.

The council is meeting every Monday in special session and in regular meetings on Wednesdays to discuss its 2023 budget. Interim Summit County Manager Janna Young said department directors and elected officials who want to appeal the manager-recommended budget or other big changes in their budgets are giving presentations to the council throughout November.

The public hearings will be in December in Snyderville Basin and Coalville. The council will adopt the final budget on December 14.

Summit County Human Resources Director David Warnock said inflation is at about 9.6 percent in Utah, one of the reasons he’s recommending county staff received a 10 percent COLA — or cost of living increase — across the board.

“We're seeing a dramatic increase in the cost of living for all employees,” Warnock said. “And we're trying to help them maintain standard of living and continue to be able to work for Summit County for the wages that we pay them.”

He said the recommended increase is based on what other cities and counties in the Intermountain West are doing. Utah's average increase is just shy of seven percent. However, he said other competing areas are higher like Park City's 10.5 percent and Ogden's 13 percent increases.

"We're trying to be competitive and stay in realm with those other cities and counties across the state but also those that we compete with most for employees,” Warnock said.

Staff retention is another reason the pay adjustment makes sense he said. Summit County is approaching an 18 to 20 percent turnover rate in 2022, the highest for the county in 10 years, Warnock said.

"When our employees leave, we do exit interviews," Warnock said. "Two-thirds of the employees that have left us are saying that they're leaving because of jobs that pay them more money. Or another factor that affects a lot of Summit County employees is the commute.”

By offering more money the county hopes to help offset either local housing or commuting expenses he said.

The Summit County Council meets in work session Wednesday starting at 1:45 p.m. at the Ledges Event Center in Coalville.