Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Merced [County] Mysteries & Minutiae: Supervisors don’t vote on their own raises

Blog note: this article references a 2007 ordinance enacted by the Board of Supervisors on supervisor compensation that followed a grand jury report recommending changes.
Supervisor pay is sort of wacky.
It’s a good salary, but the mechanics behind the salary are a bit complicated.
It’s also something that’s not really discussed during public meetings.
Q: Did the Board of Supervisors give themselves another raise recently?
A: No.
Though the board did receive a raise in July, the beginning of the new fiscal year, supervisors do not vote on their salaries.
In Merced County, supervisor pay is linked to the pay rate for judges. Supervisors receive 54.2 percent of what judges earn.
The system was established in 2007 through an ordinance after the Merced County grand jury suggested changes in how supervisors were paid.
The grand jury in its report said the supervisors’ pay should be higher to attract more quality candidates and to provide equal opportunity for potential candidates who could not afford to quit their jobs to take on the position.
The board at that time was made up of District 1 Supervisor John Pedrozo, District 2 Supervisor Kathleen M. Crookham, District 3 Supervisor Mike Nelson, District 4 Supervisor Deidre Kelsey and District 5 Supervisor Jerry O’Banion.
The board was presented four options to choose from that included various methods of determining a base salary and options to sell back sick leave and vacation time.
The board voted for the option that gave them a higher percentage of the judges’ salary and the option of taking all or nothing when it came to sick leave sellback at retirement.
The decision eliminated the board’s position to set its salary or raises.
The board members receive their raises automatically beginning in the new fiscal year after the raises have gone into effect for the judges.
Kelsey was the only one who voted “no.”
In July, a pay increase kicked in for supervisors, bumping their annual salary by about $2,000. Their pay went from $100,000 to $102,400.
Supervisors Hub Walsh, Daron McDaniel and O’Banion each accepted the raises. Kelsey and Pedrozo didn’t return phone calls to confirm whether they did, but so far no supervisor has reported declining the raise.
In the past, individual supervisors have declined raises or voluntarily taken reductions.
The county supervisors were not subject to a 5 percent salary reduction that hit county employees in 2012, but all voluntarily took the decrease. The concession expired Dec. 15, 2013, along with the end of employee furloughs, Merced Sun-Star archives show.
In 2014, Pedrozo and Walsh declined the raises. Last year, McDaniel declined the raise because he’d only been on the board for about six months, he said.
This year, the supervisors felt more comfortable accepting the raises since other county employee groups have received raises and the county is in a better financial position than in the past, they said.
“The general climate is better,” Walsh, the board chairman, said. “We’re not furloughing folks anymore. The circumstances are better. We’ve actually negotiated some raises.”
McDaniel said this time around, he feels he’s earned the raise. McDaniel estimates he works 60 to 70 hours a week as a supervisor. Most of that time is spent reading and studying, he said. Meeting constituents, returning phone calls, attending breakfast meetings and dinner events make for long days, he said.
“When we get paid as we do, every day we need to consider that and work our worth,” he said. “I do everything on behalf of my constituents. I have 50,000 bosses.”
In the past, Kelsey has expressed a critical opinion of how much supervisors earn and said she would support a 15 percent pay cut.
Supervisors have received three raises since 2008, said Mike North, a spokesman for the county. The raises came in 2014, 2015 and in July. Each of the raises followed raises for judges.
Supervisors’ salaries come from the county’s general fund.
September 11, 2016
Merced Sun-Star
By Brianna Calix

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