22 Aug 2014
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County Supervisors Consider Giving Themselves a 10 Percent Pay Raise Tuesday

The Supervisors, who haven't had a raise since 2008, will vote on increasing their salaries from $112,000 a year to $123,000 a year.

County Supervisors Consider Giving Themselves a 10 Percent Pay Raise Tuesday
After voting down two pay increases over the past five years, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors will Tuesday consider a 10.3 percent increase in their own salaries over the next five years.

That would be a bump from $111,696 a year to $123,238 a year. 

County Personnel Director Michael McDougall made the proposal, saying that the supervisors' salaries were getting close to being surpassed by those of their legislative analysts, whose salaries are in the $80-$90,000 a year range. McDougall said the supervisors should make 10 to 15 percent more than the people who work for them. The analysts are union employees and each supervisor has two.

"In recognition of your Board's significant salary concessions over the past several years, the lack of a cost of living adjustment since 2008, and in an effort to keep the salaries of all employees internally aligned, staff is proposing salary increases equivalent to those approved for unrepresented employees and comparable to the County's General and Middle Management units," wrote McDougall in the proposed ordinance.

The Board and county employees have had salary cuts by furlough, taking unpaid days off for 2.5 percent of their salaries. It was 7.5 percent in 2009. The proposed increases will cost the taxpayers $51,000 over the next four years, which will come from the county's general fund.

County Supervisor Greg Caput so far is the only member speaking out against the pay increase. He has proposed a cap on supervisor's salaries and a formula that would link them to the salaries of judges.

"Over the past 20 years, previous Boards have elevated their pay substantially," Caput wrote in a letter to his fellow supervisors. "Such pay increases have been discretionarily assigned by the Board and to the Board.

"Put simply, I do not believe that we should reserve the right to increase our pay in such a fashion and believe we should peg our pay schedule to more objective markers. This would in effect create a system of checks and balances that would draw from the Judicial, legislative,and executive branches of the State government."

The supervisors oversee 2,100 county employees, more than half of whom earn $30,000-$70,000. Some 800 earn more than $100,000. 

The local board earns more than those in San Francisco ($101,468), Contra Costa ($97,483), Marin ($97,439) and Solano ($94,758), according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Currently, board salaries are determined by what the market will bear and the market has been very good to Santa Cruz officials. County Administrator Susan Mauriello is in the state's top 10 paid administrators and the top paid government official at $269,000 a year. The board approves her salary and she oversees their salaries. Her name is signed to the proposal to increase the board's salaries.

To see how the administrator's salary stacks up compared to other much larger counties, click here.

Here are the top paid county employees, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

Susan Mauriello county administrative officer $268,995
Poki Namkung health officer $244,358
Charles Johnson osychiatrist $239,072
Dana McRae county counsel $233,358
Bob Lee district attorney $221,968
Claudine Wildman director of social services $210,545
Philip Wowak sheriff-coroner $209,482
Cecilia Espinola director of human services $208,667
Robert Brown Jr. psychiatrist $207,786

Patch sent a questionnaire to each Supervisor asking whether they would vote for a raise and how they justified it, but none returned it. Greg Caput's assistant referred to his letter to the board and Zach Friend passed the question to Neal Coonerty, the Board Chairman.

The vote and meeting is Tuesday morning between 9 a.m. and noon.

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