Members of the Polk County, Iowa, Board of Supervisors earn $95,806 a year, which goes pretty far in Des Moines. In a show of belt tightening at a time when the county faced a $5.3 million budget deficit, they took no raise this fiscal year. Next year's budget, which dips into reserves to cover a $2.7 million deficit, gives the supervisors a 1 percent bump. But the Polk County Compensation Board thinks the supervisors have sacrificed too much in the name of fiscal austerity. To reward them for their self-restraint, it recently recommended that the supervisors and the county's five other elected officials (attorney, auditor, recorder, treasurer, and sheriff) receive severance payments of up to $30,000. Under the board's proposal, an elected official who has served at least eight years would receive one week's pay for each year in office if he retired or voters decided to fire him. That's in addition to the retirement benefits that all public employees receive under the state pension system, and it would presumably help take the sting out of losing an election. If the supervisors, three of whom seem receptive to the idea, do decide to approve severance payments for themselves, they could be receiving them sooner than expected.

[Thanks to Mark Lambert for the tip.]