Sunday, April 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

County board in position for ‘rebel yell’ moment

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From page A10 | December 15, 2013 | 4 Comments

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 gfaison@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GlenFaison.

Glen Faison

Glen Faison

Glen Faison joined the Daily Republic as managing editor in September 2009. He has worked as a reporter and editor for daily and weekly newspapers in the San Joaquin Valley for 20-plus years. His experience includes time as editor of the Golden Eagle, a military paper serving the Lemoore Naval Air Station. He graduated from Fresno State University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and bleeds Bulldogs red. He is an avid Washington Redskins fan, and attended the 1988 NFC Championship Game against the Minnesota Vikings at RFK Stadium. He married his wife, Jill, in 2005, and has three children: Courtni, Tyler and Hayli.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 4 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • The MisterDecember 15, 2013 - 7:39 am

    Thanks for the info, Glen. You suppose anyone of them would help with the PG&E bill as we can't light a fire? Probably not.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • All Along the WatchtowerDecember 15, 2013 - 6:45 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGH-9xzCkJU

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Pink Floyd - (HQ) Money (1973)December 15, 2013 - 6:50 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qFYmsuC01c

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • I've Got a Little Secret,December 15, 2013 - 6:55 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiYunX_mplg

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

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