Four elected officials in Los Alamos County could receive almost a tenfold increase in pay through a bill that cleared the state Legislature on Tuesday.
The sheriff, assessor, treasurer and county clerk now are part-time positions that pay $6,889 a year. The bill would allow the Los Alamos County Council to upgrade the jobs to full-time and set higher salaries.
Under the legislation, the sheriff’s pay could be raised to a maximum of $68,654 a year. The assessor, treasurer and county clerk could receive up to $65,855 annually.
Even if the Los Alamos County councilors change the jobs to full-time status, no salary increases would take effect until the first day of the term of those elected to the offices.
State senators approved the bill Tuesday in a 32-5 vote. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, had previously cleared the House of Representatives 61-0. Now it goes to Gov. Susana Martinez for her consideration.
Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Española, said he supports the bill as a way to improve government efficiency. Because Los Alamos has part-time elected officials making less than $7,000 a year, deputies have to be hired to do much of the work, said Sen. Martinez, no relation to the governor.
“This allows them to be full-time employees and be paid full-time salaries,” he said.
Los Alamos, a city and a county, is home to well-paying federal jobs that make it one of the most affluent communities in the country. It has a population of about 18,000. It is the smallest county in New Mexico geographically, at 109 square miles.