Tuesday Mar 11 2008
Still no dollar figure for supes raise
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
Compensation proposal could go on November ballot
Placer County supervisors were unable to come up with a dollar figure Tuesday on how much of a raise they'd like to see themselves get. Instead, supervisors spent much of a lengthy discussion on hiking their current $30,000 salary locking horns with League of Placer County Taxpayers President Wally Reemelin. The question of a hard number to put to voters in the November election could now be revisited as early as April by supervisors. They're working under a deadline. They were told they would have until July 2 to get a ballot measure to the elections division in time for the November election. Stating the taxpayers league was there to help supervisors determine a salary level that would pass muster with voters, Reemelin said a telephone survey by the group indicated the mid-$40,000-level would tend to provide the broadest amount of support. Reemelin added, however, that the Taxpayers League wouldn't back a proposal to take the approval of any future pay increases away from voters. The league initiated the drive for the $30,000 compensation cap in the early 1990s after supervisors approved what voters ultimately felt was an exorbitant compensation package. The $30,000 ceiling “ with no benefits above that amount “ has continued since then. Supervisors at Tuesday's meeting were adamant that the time had come for them to be paid what they consider fair compensation for their work. They also took some verbal pot shots at the league's stance on a recommendation by a board-appointed committee for a $100,000 compensation package, including benefits. The Charter Review's Committee's recommendation is for future increases to be tied to inflationary averages. Wayne Nader, chairman of the committee, reiterated comments made when the panel first introduced the idea of taking a raise to voters in June or November. He cited statistics indicating supervisor compensation in Placer County was ranked 53rd out of 58 California counties. You're grossly underpaid and to do this as half a measure would be very sad, Nader said. Given three minutes to outline his group's stance, Reemelin zeroed in on recent issues the board and the league have clashed on “ including adopting a $1 vehicle tax to aid a stolen car program that he described as more empire-building than enforcement. In an estimated 10-minute rebuttal, Supervisor Kirk Uhler “ a taxpayers league member and initial supporter of the $30,000 proposition “ said that he was disappointed the league was focusing on issues like the car tax when the board was dealing with more important issues such as a projected $25 million deficit. The issues brought up by the league “ including the continued board use of revenue-sharing funds for donations to local community groups “ amount to less than half a million dollars in a projected $792 million budget this year, Uhler said. I'm disappointed that the league only carps at things that play on the periphery, Uhler said. Noting that he and Auburn-area Supervisor Jim Holmes are running unopposed for second terms in office, Uhler added that perhaps the $30,000 is a disincentive for prospective candidates. Reemelin subsequently objected to the length and tone of Uhler's statements, which he characterized as not just an attack on the league “ but on the public of Placer County, whom we represent. Holmes, the board chairman, said that he would remind Reemelin that supervisors are the ones who were elected to represent the people of Placer County. When Uhler questioned Reemelin on misrepresentations the league president had accused him of making, Reemelin walked away from the microphone with a comment that this is not the time to do this “ you're ridiculous. Supervisors Rocky Rockholm, Bruce Kranz and Robert Weygandt agreed with their board colleagues that the time had come for a raise. Kranz mentioned he had worked 50 to 60 hours a week for three and a half years as a supervisor. Rockholm said board self esteem would be raised with a fairer compensation package. Holmes said he would continue to do the work for $30,000 but that he felt it was important to have compensation worthy of the post. Weygandt said higher salaries for supervisors could be viewed as a recruitment tool. Supervisors ended discussion by directing staff to bring the issue back with a sample ballot measure “ that didn't include a dollar amount “ either at their late April or late May meeting. The Journal's Gus Thomson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post a comment at auburnjournal.com.