Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey is asking for $162,000 in salary in 2009, a pay raise of more than 9 percent.
Most county workers have been getting raises in the 3 percent range.
Storey, who was re-elected in November, earned $148,256 in 2008, the second highest for a DA in a five-county comparison that Storey provided the Jefferson County commissioners on Dec. 9. According to Storey, the other four counties' district attorneys are each asking for an average salary increase of 12.7 percent.
The commissioners have to set Storey's salary before he's sworn in for his second term on Jan. 13.
Unlike other county employees, the state pays a significant portion of Storey's salary. In 2009, the state will contribute $80,000, and an additional $8,000 every year after. The county will pay Storey $82,000 in 2009, $82,102 in 2010, $82,605 in 2011 and $83,535 in 2012.
"To advocate for my salary is almost embarrassing," Storey told the commissioners. He said he's been a lawyer for 25 years, all of those as a prosecutor, and in Jefferson County for 19 years.
"I've been dedicated to the DA's office," Storey said, citing
the numerous boards he sits on and the 170 employees he manages. He said he cut $331,000 from his 2008 budget despite rising caseloads, and has effectively managed a $17 million budget for the last four years.
"Our office has been a partner with the county to manage the budget the best we can," Storey said.
"I think it is appropriate," said Kathy Hartman, chair of the county commission. "It is in line with what other DAs with similar efforts make, similar-size caseloads, and similar counties. The voters just re-elected him, and I think voters have said they have confidence in him, so I think it's appropriate." Storey was first elected in 2003.
As for the 9 percent salary increase when most county employees are in the 3 percent range, Hartman said: "He had lower salary increases than some employees had in the last couple years."
She added that as the state raises its share of his salary, the county's contribution goes down, and Jeffco taxpayers save money.
Hartman also said that the county has "a severely long-overdue compensation study that should be finished in the spring, so we may see a number of employees get some significant raises."
Hartman admitted that at first blush the raise did seem big.
"I did think it was a relatively large increase," Hartman said. "But the longer I think about it, given what other DAs are making, the level of effort Scott puts into the job, the level of experience he brings to the job, and the fact that he could easily earn double that in private practice, I think it's fair."
District 2 Commissioner Kevin McCasky agreed that the salary is fair.
"The legislature has examined this and determined that they're going to continue the higher portion," McCasky said. "Our contribution is less than it was before, and these guys have a highly skilled level of experience. I'm comfortable with it."