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Chickasaws considering hefty pay raise for governor

Ada, Oklahoma (AP) 9-07

The salary for one of the highest-paid elected official in Oklahoma may climb even more.

Chickasaw Nation legislators will vote September 19th on a measure to increase Gov. Bill Anoatubby’s base salary from $100,000 to $300,000 annually. Tack on longevity bonuses and retirement contributions, and Anoatubby’s total compensation adds up to $715,000 a year.

The same resolution would raise Lt. Gov. Jefferson Keel’s base pay from $80,000 to $200,000 a year. A longevity bonus would push his total salary to $300,000. Keel, also would get an extra 30 percent of his total pay set aside for a retirement account. In his case, that would be $90,000, for a total compensation of $390,000.

Oklahoma’s governor makes more than $110,000 annually.

Legislator Beth Alexander said she will oppose the pay raises and a separate resolution that would raise her own yearly pay by almost $6,000. Alexander said she’s seen no evidence of pay raises for the tribe’s rank-and-file workers.

“I feel like we’re top heavy,” she said. “The employees, I’m concerned they’re not making enough money to take care of their families. The cost of living has gone up, but we haven’t done anything for them.”

Brian Campbell, who heads the tribe’s commerce division, said he suggested the raises because it reflects progress made under Anoatubby’s leadership.

In the past four years, the tribe’s work force has gone from 2,700 to 10,500, Campbell said. The tribe now is among Oklahoma’s largest employers.

“We had commensurate growth in all the programs and services designed to help Chickasaw people, from senior citizens to health care and education programs,” Campbell said.

He said Anoatubby should be treated like a corporate chief executive officer because of the tribe’s diverse business interests.

Campbell disputed Alexander’s assertion that Chickasaw employees haven’t benefited from the tribe’s elevated financial status. Employees are evaluated “continually” for merit raises, he said.

Chickasaw legislators and judges who have been in office several years also would benefit from separate resolutions to be voted on September 19th.

The tribe’s legislators currently make $42,000 in base pay, plus 3.5 percent extra for each year in office. Under the resolution, the base pay would remain the same, but the longevity bonus would jump to 5 percent.

As for other tribes, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith, who oversees the second-largest tribe in the United States, makes $112,444.80 a year, plus a $500-a-month travel allowance, spokesman Mike Miller said. Tribal council members receive $36,450 annually.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation pays Principal Chief A.D. Ellis $100,000 per year and National Council members receive $35,000 each, Council Speaker George Tiger said.

A bill passed by the Osage Congress this year sets Chief Jim Gray’s salary at $95,000 and budgets $672,000 in congressional salaries, or an average of $56,000 per member.

The governor and eight legislators of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes each made $50,000 last year. Legislators approved a 2.5 percent cost-of-living increase for themselves this year but denied Gov. Darrell Flyingman’s request for a raise to $100,000.

Choctaw Nation spokeswoman Judy Allen said salary information isn’t disclosed, but there has been no legislation changing the salaries of Chief Greg Pyle or the tribal council in at least seven or eight years.

The Comanche Nation allocates a $40,000 salary for Chairman Wallace Coffey and $18,000 total for the tribe’s four other business committee members.

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Information from:
The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

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