El Dorado County supervisors decide against giving themselves raises
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — El Dorado County supervisors declined to explore giving themselves raises at their Feb. 4 board meeting.
County staff recommended the board consider a potential pay boost after a 2019 study found that board member salaries are 9.42% below the market median.
The job isn’t about the money, District 3 Supervisor Brian Veerkamp said, despite what at times can be a demanding perch.
“I think all of us do this for different reasons,” Veerkamp said. “It’s no secret that I didn’t take pay for the first four years. You find out there’s a lot to it.
“But we’re policymakers … To me, the employees and administrators are the important part. And for us, we’re there to support them,” he added. “I know it takes a lot of time. But if we focus more on policy and make sure our department heads are doing what they’re supposed to do then there wouldn’t be a whole lot coming to us.”
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While apprehensive about the idea of granting a personal salary increase at this time, a pay raise for the board may become necessary in the coming years as staff salaries continue to rise, according to District 1 Supervisor John Hidahl.
“I don’t think anyone is asking for an immediate pay raise but I think we need to look into the future,” he said. “If it stays constant over the next five years I can guarantee you we will have assistants making 20% more than the supervisors are making. Is that an equitable, balanced situation?”
The Board of Supervisors hasn’t received a pay raise in more than 13 years. They each receive a monthly salary of $6,406.40.
District 5 Supervisor Sue Novasel and Hidahl expressed eagerness to take control of their pay raises and salaries going forward.
The board evaluated the idea of “indexing” their pay raises to another factor outside the county’s domain — such as raises for a Superior Court judge — but ultimately to leave the issue alone.
Hidahl noted that several nearby counties — Napa, Sacramento and Placer — all tag their supervisor salaries to other factors rather than decide upon raises for themselves.
Before the meeting the Taxpayers Association of El Dorado County registered its opposition to any potential raises for the board. In a statement, president Andy Nevis challenged the study that revealed a possible need for salary increases.
“As reported in the staff report, in absolute terms El Dorado County supervisor compensation is 9.42% below the market median,” he wrote. “When the per-capita factor is applied … it is 11.17% above the median.”
On top of increased costs, Nevis added that pay raises could have negative ripple effects throughout the county ranks.
“It would signal to employees that the board isn’t willing to adhere to the compensation policy it has pursued for most other employees, reducing morale and encouraging future requests for raises,” he wrote.
While she too wasn’t seeking a pay raise, Supervisor Novasel noted that her post has become a 60-hour-a-week job and that the position shouldn’t be minimized despite comparably low population numbers.
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