Why are we Paying Clerk and Recorder Sandra Merchant $70,000 per Year?

After winning the election for Cascade County Clerk and Recorder by just 31 votes, Sandra Merchant doesn’t have as much to do as her predecessor, Rina Moore.   But, she receives the same salary Moore did (around $70,000).  We should be paying her less.

First, there is the matter of the surveyor duties of the office.  The full title of the office is County Clerk and Recorder/Auditor/Surveyor.  Rina Moore is a licensed surveyor and, therefore, performed the surveyor duties of the office.  Sandra Merchant is not a licensed surveyor.  So likely the County will have to pay a licensed surveyor to perform those duties.  We don’t know what that cost is yet.  But what we do know is that Merchant is receiving the same salary as Rina Moore but cannot perform the same duties.

Then there is the matter of the auditing duties which Moore was performing.  Without getting  too complicated, Moore basically oversaw the accounting functions of the County.  At a January 10th meeting, the County Commissioners voted to take the auditing functions out of the Clerk and Recorder’s Office and place them in a new County FInancial Office. Merchant will have no role in overseeing the accounting of the county like Moore did.  

Finally, there has been discussion among the County Commissioners of moving the elections function out of the Clerk and Recorder’s Office.  According to the Great Falls Electric, on November 14th, Commissioner Joe Briggs said that he plans to propose an ordinance to move county elections from the Clerk and Recorder’s Office to the County Commission. Probably a good move since Merchant appears to be an election denier who likely thinks all ballots should be voted with a quill pen, counted by hand, and tallied with an abacus.

Bottom line, Sandra Merchant is doing a much less complex and difficult job than what was done by Rina Moore . . .but the pay remains the same.  The County Commission should review how the duties of the Clerk and Recorder have changed and adjust the pay accordingly.