Stanislaus County leaders OK salary hike, pension deal for deputies

kcarlson@modbee.comJanuary 7, 2014 

  • In other action

    Stanislaus County supervisors took the following action Tuesday:

    •  Heard the annual progress report for the county employee mentor program. Since the program began in 1999, county employees and other participants have invested 22,600 nonwork hours serving as mentors for disadvantaged young people.

    •  Approved a 600-foot no-truck-parking zone on Kiernan Avenue, west of Toomes Road, next to Salida Middle School. The school asked for the restriction because tractor-trailers parked overnight have blocked visibility near a student drop-off area.

— Stanislaus County supervisors approved an agreement Tuesday giving sworn deputies a 13.4 percent raise. In exchange, the county will stop picking up the employees’ share of contributions for their pension benefits.

Officials said the agreement is a one-to-one conversion. The salary increase is equal to the county’s average cost of paying the pension contribution for the employees represented by the Stanislaus Sworn Deputies Association, a report said.

Supervisor Dick Monteith dissented in the 4-1 vote approving the agreement. He said that until the economy shows more improvement, he cannot support any salary commitments that elevate costs for the county. The county will incur about $556,000 in increased annual costs because the agreement will result in higher payroll taxes and pensions.

About $500,000 of the cost increase will come out of the county general fund.

The county and union negotiated the agreement after the state pension reform law required that public employees hired after Jan. 1, 2013, be responsible for paying their share of pension costs. Since 2006, the county has picked up 100 percent of the pension contribution for sworn deputies, including patrol staff, detectives and other law enforcers.

All of the 156 positions represented by the union are affected by the agreement.

County leaders were concerned that the pension reforms would create two compensation levels within the Sheriff’s Department, making it harder to hire recruits to fill vacancies. They hope the higher base salaries will help attract job candidates and retain employees.

The agreement will create a salary range for deputies from $27.62 to $33.57 an hour, up from $24.36 to $29.61 an hour. The changes are to take effect Saturday.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Supervisor Jim DeMartini began a one-year stint as board chairman. Supervisor Terry Withrow is vice chairman and next in line to lead the board, in 2015.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or (209) 578-2321.

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