Board rejects proposed hikes in six Stanislaus officials' pay

Stanislaus County's six elected officials won't get additional raises beyond cost-of-living adjustments, despite a recommendation from county staff to hike their salaries anywhere from 5 percent to more than 12 percent.

A motion to approve the raises and set up a formal salary review process was voted down by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday morning. Supervisors Dick Monteith, Bill O'Brien and Tom Mayfield voted against the proposal.

Under the staff proposal, the sheriff would have gotten a 5.69 percent raise, to $181,334.40; the district attorney, a 6.43 percent raise, to $181,334.40; auditor-controller, 4.94 percent, to $147,974.86; assessor, 5.82 percent, to $147,974.86; treasurer-tax collector, 12.58 percent, to $147,974.86; and clerk-recorder, 7.17 percent, $120,217.92.

Those raises would have been on top of 3.5 percent cost-of- living adjustments they received this week. They are scheduled to get 3 percent adjustments in January 2009 and January 2010. The cost-of-living raises aren't tied to any index and are negotiated, said county Chief Executive Officer Rick Robinson.

The proposed raises would have cost the county $30,000 for the rest of this budget year and $67,000 annually after that, according to Jody Hayes, county deputy executive officer. The money would have come from each department's existing budget.

Robinson said the raises were determined by looking at salaries in eight comparable counties and by looking at similar responsibilities among the county's department heads.

The sheriff and district attorney, for instance, have responsibilities and qualification requirements similar to the directors of the Health Services Agency, the Community Services Agency, the Department of Behavioral Health and the public defender, Robinson said.

He compared the clerk- recorder's job to those of county ag commissioner and librarian.Nonelected department heads are paid within a salary range and are given merit-based raises.

The counties used for the comparison were Fresno, Kern, Monterey, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Sonoma and Ventura.

Review process part of plan

The raise proposal would have created a review process to set the salaries every four years, prior to the filing period for the election, so candidates would know what the salary would be when they run.

Monteith said he never had heard of a public office for which a candidate knows whether a raise is coming. "They don't do it at the state level, they don't do it on the federal level," Monteith said. "I'm having trouble understanding the value of that."

O'Brien said he always has opposed raises for elected officials in the middle of their terms. Mayfield noted that the elected officials get cost-of-living raises annually.

Supervisor Jim DeMartini, in supporting the proposal, noted that the elected officials' salaries haven't been increased since 2001, other than the cost-of- living raises.

DeMartini questioned why the clerk-recorder gets paid less than the other office holders. Robinson replied that the other offices require specific qualifications -- a law degree, a background in law enforcement or financial qualifications. The clerk-recorder's job, though important, is more of a "learn on the job" situation, he said.Bee staff writer Tim Moran can be reached at tmoran@modbee.com or 578-2349.