(1/24/12) A judge says the Eau Claire County sheriff and treasurer do not have to pay more toward their health insurance and retirements -- because it’s against state law to change the pay of elected officials during their terms.
Sheriff Ron Cramer and Treasurer Larry Lokken went to court, after their county board passed an ordinance last March forcing all non-union employees and officials to pay more for their benefits as required by the state Legislature. Cramer and Lokken said the extra payments broke a state law that local governments must determine the salaries of elected officials before the voters choose people for those terms. And yesterday, Chippewa County Circuit Judge Steven Cray agreed. Taylor County Sheriff Bruce Daniels of the Wisconsin Sheriff’s and Deputy Sheriff’s Association said the case was being watched closely by elected officials throughout Wisconsin. Lokken said the case wasn’t about the money – it was about a desire to be treated fairly. Cramer agreed, and said it was unfortunate the issue had to be taken to court. The attorney for the officials, Harry Hertel, said the county must pay back the money withheld, plus interest. It’s not known yet how much that will be.