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Freeze Likely On Sheriff’s Salary Goldman’s Paycheck Called ‘Out Of Kilter’ By Commissioner

(From for the Record, Wednesday, April 17, 1996): A word was left out of a Tuesday story on Spokane County Sheriff John Goldman’s salary. The story should have said County Commissioners Phil Harris and John Roskelley agree Goldman’s pay raises should not be tied to what unionized deputies get.

Spokane County commissioners are expected to freeze Sheriff John Goldman’s salary today or restrict his annual raises to 2 percent - like theirs.

Only King County’s top lawman earns more in Washington state than Goldman’s $90,344 a year, according to a recent survey by the Spokane County Human Resources Department.

The average sheriff’s salary of six Washington counties closest in population to Spokane County is $74,120.

The issue of Goldman’s salary is a hot button with Commissioner Steve Hasson. On Monday, it set off a war of words between the two.

Hasson said Goldman’s paycheck is “out of kilter” as a result of annual increases tied - in what Hasson calls a conflict of interest - to union-negotiated raises for his deputies.

Since the early 1990s, the Spokane County sheriff has sat across the bargaining table from union representatives and argued management’s position, then received the same percentage raise.

Hasson shoulders some of the blame, however.

He and two other former commissioners signed the resolution that tied the sheriff’s raises to the deputies.

“I have tried to undo that,” Hasson said. “You have a sheriff being an advocate for whatever his staff makes. He reaps the benefits of whatever they make.

“He should represent the management viewpoint, which is fiscal prudence. Otherwise, you’re giving away the shop.”

County commissioners, who earn just under $57,000 a year, receive 2 percent annual increases, as do most other elected officials in Spokane County.

Goldman disputes the premise that he makes too much money, but he agrees with the idea of avoiding any perception of conflict of interest.

The sheriff said he would have no problem with a standard 2 percent raise each year. But he also said the county gets what it pays for.

“It’s important to have salaries set at a level which allows (the county) to attract truly qualified people,” Goldman said. “And in some cases right now, we’re dealing with the byproduct of a system that doesn’t do that.”

Goldman would not elaborate.

The issue of his salary reached a boiling point during a meeting last week with commissioners.

Sources said the meeting was personal and disagreeable. At one point, Hasson brought up Goldman’s wife, a medical doctor, and suggested they were among the county’s economic elite.

“It would be real easy for me to get down to Commissioner Hasson’s level,” Goldman said Monday. “But I consider myself a professional law enforcement executive, and I’ll let my record and his be compared anytime.”

Commissioners John Roskelley and Phil Harris agreed the sheriff’s future raises should be tied to union increases.

Harris suggested the sheriff earn from $70,000 to $75,000 but agreed that if the board freezes the salary, Goldman would keep his $90,344 throughout his term.

Spokane Police Chief Terry Mangan earns $82,500 a year. The maximum for King County’s sheriff is $101,000 a year, although the actual salary could not be obtained Monday.

“I think elected officials should be here to serve the community and not to make a buck,” Harris said.

Goldman defended his salary by saying it’s “healthy” for any organization to distance top management pay from the rank and file.

He also suggested that Hasson is really targeting deputy salaries or other department brass.

Hasson frequently questions whether Goldman needs two undersheriffs. Mike Aubrey and Burel Schulz each earn $84,000 a year, Hasson said.

Hasson also noted that the county’s chief administrative officer, Jim Lindow, and Public Works Director Dennis Scott earn less than $80,000 a year.

“He (Goldman) is really overpaid for that position,” Hasson said. “It’s not to say he’s not a good sheriff and doesn’t do a good job.”

Goldman said Spokane County is growing disproportionately in major crimes that can be curbed only by attracting exceptional law enforcement leaders.

“Whatever they do with my salary,” Goldman said, “it’s not going to stop me from advocating comparable salaries for the men and women who risk their lives out in the field every day.

“If Steve had any sense at all, he might find another area to channel his efforts that might be more appropriate.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: Washington state sheriff salaries