El Dorado County supervisors up their salaries 9%

Eric Jaramishian
Mountain Democrat

The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors voted last week to increase their salaries. It is the first pay raise for the elected position in 14 years.

Supervisors will get a one-time, 9% pay increase. Their current salary stands at $76,876.80 plus benefits.

Human Resources Director Joseph Carruesco, whose department the board instructed to complete a compensation analysis, found that El Dorado County supervisors pay grade is 13.9%, or $10,477 below the median compared to eight other counties’ boards.

The board’s monthly total compensation is $9,192 and their base salary is at $6,406, which is 1.71% below the comparable counties’ median.

Sacramento, Napa, Placer, Solano and Yolo counties’ compensation is above $10,000 monthly. Butte, Nevada and Sutter counties make less than $9,000.

“Supervisors must have been hugely overcompensated 13 years ago because this job grows in requirements all the time,” Board Chair John Hidahl said. “It isn’t a diminishing job. It is not part time, in my opinion.”

Carruesco presented two options, including the 9% adjustment, on how to increase compensation.

The other option was to match compensation increases to the superior court judges, who get a pay increase every July 1, meaning the board receives whatever the judges’ rate increase is that year, which could range from a fraction of a percent to 4.3%, according to Carruesco.

Judges’ salaries are based on statewide union bargaining, Carruesco said.

According to compensation study data, the board does not receive an auto allowance or social security like the other comparable counties.

District 2 Supervisor Wendy Thomas said she was against the pay adjustment initially but changed her mind when she learned supervisors’ assistants’ salaries are tied to supervisor salaries.

“If we don’t look at increasing this … then our assistants are stuck and that’s not fair,” Thomas said.

Thomas confirmed a $2.37 per hour differential between the board’s compensation and their assistants.

“I think it sets a dangerous precedent if we tie it to the judicial salary that goes up every year no matter what,” Thomas said. “That’s a difficult thing if the county is in a down year and our employees are not getting raises and we are. That’s not right.”

District 4 Supervisor Lori Parlin favored the one-time increase.

“We’re trying to treat everyone the same so no one feels special or left out,” Parlin said.

Hidahl favored matching superior court judge salaries, expressing concern about establishing pay based on what other employees are receiving, which is a violation of the county charter, he said.

“You might give your assistant a higher salary so you would have an even greater salary,” Hidahl said. “That’s why a lot of counties have been looking at something that takes it to a third party comparative and doesn’t deal with the internal workings of how you set salaries internally.”

County Counsel David Livingston said there is no problem adjusting the board’s compensation as long as it is done via ordinance, required in the El Dorado County Charter Article II.

The board made a motion, voting unanimously at its Sept. 21 board meeting to direct staff to return with options to increase supervisors’ total compensation to within 5% of the comparable counties median, including 2.5% going toward differed compensation and to explore recommendations for the board’s assistants’ total compensation.

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