County Supervisors recently did something almost unheard of — they voted against giving themselves a raise.
On a 3-2 vote — Supervisors Bruce Gibson and Dawn Ortiz-Legg voted for the increase and Supervisors John Peschong and Debbie Arnold voted against it; which left newly elected Dist. 4 Supervisor, Jimmy Paulding, to cast the tiebreaker vote against the raise.
Paulding reportedly said as he was just elected last year, he didn’t think it would be a good thing to vote himself a pay raise as one of the first actions he took.
According to County Human Resources Director, Tami Douglas-Schatz’ staff report supervisors’ pay was increased by ordinance in May 2021, increasing the annual pay from $86,000 to over $90,000. The ordinance also set a future compensation trigger, “It is intended that the annual salary of members of the board of supervisors be a minimum of twenty-five percent above the annual salary of the legislative assistant classification.”
Setting Supervisor pay also entails a comparison of the compensation supervisors in other counties make — so-called “prevailing wage.”
Douglas-Schatz said supervisors’ pay right now is only 5.4% higher than what their assistants make
“It is best practice,” Douglas-Schatz said, “for supervisors to be paid more than the employees they supervise and department heads typically make 20% to 30% more than their assistants or deputy directors. While the Board of Supervisors are not department heads and do not have deputy directors, a similar alignment should exist between Board members and their subordinate legislative assistants, as is contemplated in the current ordinance code provision.”
In a comparison of other supervisors’ pay form other counties, SLO County’s Supervisors “are paid about 22% below the market median.”
Douglas-Schatz’ report said that in order to bring SLO County’s supervisors’ pay up to where it ought to be, they would need to get a series of increases spaced out over the next 18 months or so. In the end she proposed the new salaries would end up at $109,000 a year.
From there, the Supervisors pay increases would have become automatic if their assistants got raises through the normal employee union negotiations, though they are not in the actual union.
If the raises had been approved, it would have cost the taxpayers and additional $142,000 a year once the salaries topped out.