Orange County Seal

Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 8:41 pm | Updated: 8:35 am, Wed Jan 29, 2014.
By NORBERTO SANTANA JR.

What a difference a county line makes.

In San Diego, a majority Republican Board of Supervisors is handing out big salary raises to sheriff’s deputies. Meanwhile, Orange County’s all-Republican Board of Supervisors is not only holding the line on salaries but demanding that deputies pay significantly more toward their pensions.

While San Diego deputies are set to receive an 8-percent salary hike and graduated payments to their pensions, Orange County deputies are looking at no raises and a demand that they pay the full employee pension share, estimated to be as much as 16 percent of their paychecks.

This hard line is, of course, drawing heavy return fire, with deputies arguing that supervisors are playing politics and in the process jeopardizing the quality of law enforcement in Orange County.

“It is unconscionable for the Board of Supervisors to propose what amounts to between a 15 percent and 18 percent pay cut to deputy sheriffs and district attorney investigators,” said Tom Dominguez, president of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs.

Yet supervisors say, don’t look at us, look at Gov. Jerry Brown. Then look in the mirror.

Supervisors’ Chairman Shawn Nelson has been publicly critical of county unions for their inability to sell their allies in Sacramento on a deal that would have won back for the county $73 million in disputed annual property tax revenues.

Supervisor Todd Spitzer on Tuesday also criticized unions from the dais for their inability to influence Brown.

“They told us they had it locked up,” Nelson said about the deputies publicly flexing their lobbying muscle in Sacramento back in the spring.

Nelson said, that given the incredible clout of law enforcement at all levels of government, the supervisors delayed cuts while that union attempted to lobby Sacramento.

“They just wasted a lot of our time making us believe they were going to be able to move the needle,” Nelson said. “We knew Orange County, based on the label, wasn’t going to win anything.”

Had the county gotten back the disputed property taxes, it all would have gone to fund raises, Nelson said.

The issue stretches back to 2006 when supervisors decided to refinance the 1994 bankruptcy debt of nearly $1 billion. With interest rates at a historic low, supervisors were elated to cut nearly a decade of payments and $100 million off the debt.

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