FAIRFIELD — County supervisors will once again consider lowering their pay as a nod to tough economic times.
Supervisor Skip Thomson is proposing that he and his colleagues cut their $94,758 annual salaries by 10 percent. He is also proposing to eliminate longevity pay that for some supervisors totals several thousands of dollars a year.
However, the law does not permit mandatory salary cuts to affect supervisors during their current terms. Rather, the salary cuts would take effect when the various board district seats change in January 2015 and January 2017.
The Board of Supervisors will discuss the matter during its Tuesday afternoon session that begins at 2 p.m. It meets at the county Government Center, 675 Texas St. A morning session for other issues begins at 9 a.m.
Supervisors last discussed cutting their salaries in June 2011 and favored the move by a 3-2 vote. However, a unanimous vote was required because the proposal came during budget sessions.
County Counsel Dennis Bunting said that a majority vote would suffice at this time.
Thomson said he is following through on a campaign promise by making the proposal. Regardless of what happens Tuesday, he said he will voluntarily forgo $25,000 of his own salary and his $11,844 in longevity pay.
Savings realized by cutting supervisors’ salaries is a blip on the radar compared to the county’s $14 million structural general fund budget deficit, he said.
“But I think if we’re going to ask our public to accept a lower standard of service and we’re going to ask our employees for more concessions, we should say that we’re willing to do it and lead by example,” Thomson said.
His colleagues work hard and probably deserve their present salaries, Thomson said. Supervisors receive 53 percent of the amount received by state Superior Court judges, a policy that Thomson voted in favor of in 2001.
In 2001, raising the supervisors’ salaries seemed appropriate, Thomson said. Now a different course of action is appropriate, he said. He wants to lower the amount to 48 percent of the judicial salaries.
Supervisor Jim Spering opposed the move to cut salaries in 2011 and opposes Thomson’s proposal. The county needs to take a holistic approach to dealing with the budget problems, he said.
Being a supervisor is a full-time job that takes him more than 50 hours a week and he thinks he is effective at what he does, Spering said. The board oversees 3,000 employees and an $800 million budget, he said.
“If someone wants to run for this position and do it for a lot less, they ought to run against me and say, ‘I’ll do it for a lot less,’ ” Spering said.
Thomson left his supervisor’s post in 2002 for the higher-paying assessor’s job, “spiking” his salary for retirement calculations, then left the assessor’s job before the term ended, Spering said. That’s the sort of practice that ought to be an issue, not what hard-working people are making, he said.
Thomson said he doesn’t want to make this issue about himself, but about dealing with a structural deficit “that’s just going to kill us.”
“I don’t think this is going to be a pleasant discussion for many of my colleagues, but it’s something I think has to be discussed,” he said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.