Question Submitted by Marsee, 031320 OKAG, 2020 OK AG 6

Docket Nº:2020 OK AG 6
Party Name:Question Submitted by: The Honorable Angela Marsee, District Attorney, District 2
Attorney:MIKE HUNTER ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OKLAHOMA ETHAN SHANER DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL
Case Date:March 13, 2020
Court:Oklahoma Attorney General Opinions
 
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2020 OK AG 6

Question Submitted by: The Honorable Angela Marsee, District Attorney, District 2

No. 2020 OK AG 6

Oklahoma Attorney General Opinions

March 13, 2020

MIKE HUNTER ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OKLAHOMA

ETHAN SHANER DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL

¶0 This office has received your request for an official Attorney General Opinion in which you ask, in effect, the following questions: 1. In a county governed by the salary provisions of 19 O.S.2011 & Supp.2019, §§ 180.58 --180.68, and whose officers currently receive a salary at or above the minimum authorized by 19 O.S.Supp.2019, § 180.62, may the board of county commissioners institute a pay raise for county officers within the range provided in 19 O.S.2011, § 180.63 that will take effect during the officers' term of office without violating OKLA. CONST. art. XXIII, § 10?

2. If the pay raise in Question #1 does not violate OKLA. CONST. art. XXIII, § 10, and a board of county commissioners instituted a pay raise effective July 1, 2019 but delayed its implementation pending resolution of Question #1, are the recipients of the pay raise entitled to the increased salary owed since July 1?

I.

BACKGROUND

A. The County Salary Act.

¶1 In Title 19, Sections 180.58 through 180.68 of the Oklahoma Statutes (the "Salary Act"), the Legislature set forth comprehensive procedures governing the salaries of county officers that serve counties in Oklahoma that do not exempt personal property from taxation under Article X, Section 6 of the Oklahoma Constitution. 1 See 19 O.S.2011, §§ 180.58, 180.67. The purpose of the Salary Act is to establish "salaries and wages of county officers... by general law applicable throughout the state under a uniform schedule fixing such salaries and wages and future increases and reductions thereof." Id. § 180.58(B) (emphasis added). Generally speaking, the salary schedule is based upon the scope and value of services the officer 2 performs and available revenues, as defined by two measures the Legislature has labeled "serviceability" and "service load." Id. § 180.58(C). Serviceability is "the net valuation of all tangible taxable property of the county", id., measured from "the county assessor's certificate of such valuations as filed with the excise board of the county for purpose of computation of ad valorem tax levies of each year[.]" Id. § 180.59. Service load is simply the county's population, as determined by the most recent Federal Decennial Census. Id. § 180.60.

¶2 In its current form, the Salary Act sets a basic annual salary range for all county officers at no less than $19, 000 and no more than $44, 500. 19 O.S.Supp.2019, § 180.62 (A). 3 It is the duty of the Board of County Commissioners ("Board") to "set the salaries for all elected county officials within the limits allowed by law." Id. § 180.62(B). [4] On top of the basic salary, Section 180.63 of the Salary Act provides for salary increases based on serviceability and service load. Under the serviceability factor, the Board may increase the salary of the county's "enforcement officers" according to the following formula:

A. To the basic salary:

1. Add the product of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) times each One Million Dollars ($1, 000, 000.00) net valuation, or major fraction thereof until a net valuation of Seventy-five Million Dollars ($75, 000, 000.00) is reached;

2. Thereafter add the product of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) times each additional Five Million Dollars ($5, 000, 000.00) net valuation, or major fraction thereof until a net valuation of Five Hundred Million Dollars ($500, 000, 000.00) is reached;

3. Thereafter add the product of One Hundred Twenty-five Dollars ($125.00) times each additional Seven Million Dollars ($7, 000, 000.00) net valuation, or major fraction thereof until a net valuation of Two Billion Dollars ($2, 000, 000, 000.00) is reached;

4. Thereafter as to all additional net valuation add the product of One Hundred Twenty-five Dollars ($125.00) times each additional Twenty Million Dollars ($20, 000, 000.00) net valuation, or major fraction thereof.

Id. § 180.63. 5 Under the service load factor, the Board shall increase the salary of all county officers pursuant to the following:

B. Also, the salary of each county officer shall be additionally increased from the basic salary named in Section 180.62 of this title, and the additions thereto heretofore provided in this section, for population or service load according to the following scale:

1. The product of Twelve Dollars and fifty cents ($12.50) times each one thousand (1, 000) population, or major fraction thereof until a population of seventy-five thousand (75, 000) is reached; thereafter

2. The product of Twelve Dollars and fifty cents ($12.50) times each additional five thousand (5, 000) population, or major fraction thereof until a population of one hundred fifty thousand (150, 000) is reached; thereafter add

3. The product of Twelve Dollars and fifty cents ($12.50) times each additional ten thousand (10, 000) population, or major fraction thereof.

Id. (emphasis added). The timing of salary increases approved by the Board under Section 180.63 is governed by Section 180.68 of the Salary Act:

The date on which changes in the salaries and rates of pay for county officers... under this act due to changes in population or valuation in any county shall take effect, shall be as of, on and after the first day of...

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