Faced with a $26 million revenue shortfall over the next two years, the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners voted in early June to cut its own $600,000 budget by 11 percent. But at first glance, even the new $534,000 figure for the county’s eleven commissioners looks bloated: the city budgets just $350,000 for its eleven-member council (including the mayor’s office).
Look closer, though, and the gap looks more like a crevice. It turns out the county bills the commission $143,000 a year—$13,000 per commissioner—for office space, human resources, information technology, and other support services. The city accounts for those types of expenses in its general budget.
The officials’ pay is almost identical—county commissioners earn $16,126 a year, city council members $15,914. But commissioners get some per-diem pay that council members don’t. And—this is the real perk—commissioners also get an average of $5,832 annually in medical, dental, liability and other insurance. Council members get no insurance at all.