The lyrics from Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” remind me of our elected Board of Supervisors when it comes to how they protect and expand their taxpayer-funded compensation.
The board in 1997 gave itself a sizable pay raise, determining that they should be paid 46 percent of what Superior Court judges are paid.
“In the midnight hour, she cried “more, more, more.”
Supervisors in 2001 raised that to 53 percent and eliminated an automobile allowance in return. But it was a net pay hike for each. Six years later the board restored the annual auto allowance at $10,400 but left base pay untouched. That base pay now sits at $94,758.
“With a rebel yell, she cried “more, more, more.”
Total compensation for the Board of Supervisors pushes well past $100,000 when other benefits, including longevity pay bonuses, are included. Total compensation ranges from a low of $135,000 for Supervisor Skip Thomson to a high of $166,000 for Supervisor Jim Spering. This does not include money each is paid for serving on various boards and commissions, which can add a few thousand dollars a year to their taxpayer-financed compensation.
Longevity bonuses account for more than $9,400 of Spering’s pay and nearly $4,400 of Supervisor John Vasquez’s pay. Thomson is the longevity bonus leader at nearly $12,000. Taxpayers need not worry, though: Thomson does not accept this portion of his pay, which explains why he’s at the bottom of the compensation ladder when compared to his peers on the board.
“In the midnight hour, babe, “more, more, more.”
Now the Board of Supervisors has learned of a gift from the state. Superior Court judges have been granted a 1.4 percent pay raise retroactive to July 1. That means county supervisors will get a 1.4 percent pay hike, though only retroactive to Nov. 27, the day the county was notified of the judicial pay raise. It’s the first pay hike for the Board of Supervisors in six years, but a raise nonetheless. I suspect they will not turn away the extra money.
“With a rebel yell, ‘more, more. more’: More, more, more.”
The base pay and the new pay hike have retirement implications that will only add to the state’s pension fund crisis.
Spering, for example, served 20 years on the city council in Suisun City and has been a county supervisor since 2007. If he stepped down today, he’d qualify for a taxpayer-backed retirement based on more than a quarter-century of public-sector work. His retirement would be based on his current pay as a county supervisor, which far outstrips any pay he received for his two decades on Suisun City’s council.
It’s not really pension spiking, but it is an example of why the state’s public pension systems are so out of whack. The system pays benefits based on a formula that factors in years of service and highest pay over a brief period of time, without concern over whether or not the retiree and the employer were making contributions necessary to cover that level of retirement pay.
“Oh yeah, a little baby: She want more, more, more, more, more, more.”
Solano County’s other elected officials are also well-compensated. They, too, benefit from longevity pay bonuses and a similar taxpayer-backed retirement system.
Sheriff Thomas Ferrara leads the longevity pay pack with an annual bonus of nearly $19,000. Auditor-Controller Simona Padilla-Scholtens is next in line with a longevity pay bonus of $16,000. They are followed by District Attorney Donald du Bain at $9,700; Treasurer-Tax Collector Charles Lomeli at $7,700; and Assessor-Recorder Marc Tonnesen at $4,000. All have base salaries in excess of $150,000 while du Bain and Ferrara are in the $190,000 range. Combine all forms of compensation and they each make more than $230,000 a year. Ferrara leads the way at nearly $290,000.
As the Board of Supervisors has granted raises this year to county workers, I expect them to grant some sort of raise to these elected officials as well.
“Oh yeah, a little angel: She want more, more, more, more, more, more.”
All this as the county projects $8.6 million in red ink this year in the general fund, which represents the lion’s share of the county board’s discretionary spending and about 4.5 percent off the break-even mark. The county projects deficit spending to swell to $15.6 million in 2016-17.
You know that means for taxpayers, don’t you?
“She want more, more, more, more, more, more.”
Reach Managing Editor Glen Faison at 427-6925 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GlenFaison.