Dead on arrival to the Riverside County supervisors’ desks, that is. Even raises for lower-level management appear iffy now

 

BY JEFF HORSEMAN
STAFF WRITER
jhorseman@pe.com

Published: 04 June 2012 07:16 PM

Riverside County’s sheriff and one of the county’s largest unions have joined other critics — including most county supervisors — in attacking a plan to raise elected leaders’ pay amid ongoing layoffs.

“Frankly I think that never should have even been brought to the (Board of Supervisors),” Sheriff Stan Sniff said of the plan, which would give him a nearly $28,000 raise from his $223,166 salary.

Supervisors will consider the raises at their meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 5, at the County Administrative Center, 4080 Lemon St., Riverside. But with four of the five supervisors already opposed, the plan appears dead on arrival.

The county Human Resources Department revisited the salaries of elected leaders after wrapping up talks with all but one of the county’s unions. In general, the contracts gave pay raises in exchange for pension reforms and members paying more toward their retirement.

Officials looked at what other Southern California counties pay their elected officials. On average, the salaries of Riverside County’s elected leaders are 9.1 percent below the median of surrounding counties, according to a county staff report.

District Attorney Paul Zellerbach would get the same raise as Sniff; his pay would rise to just over $251,000. Auditor/Controller Paul Angulo, Assessor/County Clerk/Recorder Larry Ward and Treasurer/Tax Collector Don Kent would see their salaries go from $165,727 to $182,300.

Cost-of-living adjustments and step raises in future years would eventually boost Zellerbach’s and Sniff’s salaries to $291,512 by July 2015. Angulo, Kent and Ward would eventually earn $211,671.

The salaries were last adjusted in August 2008. If approved, the raises would take effect July 12.

No raises are proposed for supervisors, who make about $143,000 annually.

The Service Employees International Union Local 721, which represents about 5,800 county workers, sent supervisors a letter denouncing the raises.

“These elected officials would have a higher salary than the governor of the State of California,” read the letter signed by union leaders. “This is an outrageous proposal during a time of layoffs, furloughs and calls for fiscal discipline.”

A state panel last week cut Gov. Jerry Brown’s pay from slightly less than $174,000 to about $165,000.

In an email, Supervisor John Tavaglione said he doesn’t see the raises “going anywhere at this time.”

“Putting this recommendation before the board when we’re a week away from budget discussions and considering further layoffs is ludicrous,” he wrote.

Supervisors John Benoit, Bob Buster and Jeff Stone oppose the raises as well. Supervisor Marion Ashley has said he is willing to consider the pay hikes if they’re more in line with what was negotiated for rank-and-file employees.

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