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Most Yellowstone County elected officials have welcomed a new pay plan that rewards them for their years of service to the county.

But Mark Langdorf, a field representative for the Montana Public Employees Association, said Friday that county employees are troubled by the longevity pay.

“The unit stands opposed to the proposal. It’s a case of, ‘Here we go again,’ ” Langdorf said at Friday’s meeting of Yellowstone County commissioners.

The commission approved the new pay proposal by a 2-1 margin, with Commissioners James A. “Ziggy” Ziegler and Jim Reno voting yes, and Commissioner Bill Kennedy voting no.

“When our bargaining unit comes forward with its salary proposals, what we usually hear is that we don’t have the money,” Langdorf said.

Yet, the county still found a way to fund longevity pay for elected officials, he said.

Under the new pay plan for the 2001-02 fiscal year, elected officials will receive a 4-percent increase in base salary, plus longevity pay of 1 percent for each year of service to the county.

The longevity pay for all elected officials amounts to $55,486 for the 2001-02 fiscal year, according to a memo from Scott Turner, county finance director. The longevity pay for elected officials ranges from as little as $484 to as much as $13,552, depending on base salaries and years of service.

“This will not soon be forgotten,” Langdorf said.

In response, Ziegler said that commissioners have made an effort to be fiscally responsible by deciding not to replace former administrative officer Andy Whiteman, who took a similar job in California last January and was paid about $92,000.

The proposed pay plan for county officials resulted after the 2001 Legislature passed House Bill 345, which provides counties with the authority to establish salary schedules for elected officials. A county-appointed compensation committee has been working on a pay plan for several months.

Kennedy had suggested capping the amount of longevity pay available to elected officials.

Tom Howard can be reached at 657-1261 or at

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