Olmsted County Sheriff Defends Pay Increases

Posted at: 08/29/2014 7:56 PM
Updated at: 08/29/2014 9:46 PM
By: Meghan Reistad

Sheriff Dave Mueller
Sheriff Dave Mueller

Captain Kevin Torgerson
Captain Kevin Torgerson

(ABC 6 News) -- Olmsted County Sheriff Dave Mueller -- who is up for re-election this November -- is defending his current salary.

In a recent op-ed published in the Rochester Post Bulletin, Olmsted County Sheriff Deputy Association president Mike Bromberg criticized Mueller for taking a series of pay increases since he took office in 2011.

The sheriff prior to Mueller made $121,540 a year. But when Mueller took office he requested an 8 percent increase, or about $10,000.

"The percentage of increase that was received in that first year seemed to be really out of line," said Captain Kevin Torgerson, who is running against Mueller in the election to become county sheriff.

But Mueller said the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners took his previous salary into consideration when giving him the pay increase. He said he was making about $129,000 per year as human resources director for the county prior to becoming sheriff.

"The salary is set by the county board of commissioners," said Mueller. "Certainly as sheriff I have the opportunity to be involved in a little bit of that discussion." 

He also told us his experience in leadership roles contributed to the series of raises.

"I was a department head for a number of years; I think that's what they took into consideration as well."

But critics like Torgerson and Bromber argue it's not just Mueller's pay increases that bother them; but that he's taking the increases while his deputies are barely receiving cost-of-living adjustments.

"I think one of the bigger concerns the deputies have is that while the sheriff is advocating for his own wage increases, he's not advocating for them," said Torgerson.

Mueller said he supports the deputies, and believes overall, department employees are well compensated compared to those at other departments across the state.

"From my perspective, the deputies are worth every dollar that they receive, said Mueller. "The deputies, like myself, are compensated well compared to similar sheriff's office employees."

Mueller's salary in 2014 is $144,355. If Torgerson wins this November, he vows to reduce the sheriff's salary to what it was before Mueller took office.