The makeup of the Solano County Board of Supervisors changed this week when Skip Thomson and Erin Hannigan took their respective oaths of office Tuesday and claimed their seats behind the dais.
Let’s hope the new faces bring a commitment to leadership by example, the type of fiscal leadership that recognizes that years of cuts should not continue while board members reap exorbitant salaries and perks.
The new board will oversee an $844 million county operation that includes a $221 million general fund budget with an estimated $10 million structural deficit.
Base pay for board members jumped from a little less than $40,000 in 1997 to nearly $95,000 today. With various incentives, each member of the board can expect a six-figures compensation package.
That’s far too much given the nature of the cuts that have already taken place and the fragile nature of the economy, in spite of the governor’s budget proposal this week.
Thomson was on the board for a portion of the time when board member pay spiked. He served from 1992 to 2003 and as county assessor from 2003 to late 2005. Hannigan is new to county government, but served on the Vallejo City Council from 2007 until now. She was there for the Great Recession and its lingering aftermath, so she understands the importance of setting a proper tone while addressing budget deficits.
The median household income in Solano County is just shy of $68,500, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. That’s the middle point where half of the households make more money, and half make less.
Members of the Board of Supervisors should make $75,000 a year as their base pay, not a penny more. They should vote immediately to cut their pay, eliminate longevity pay for board members, and sever the tie that links their pay to that of the state’s superior court judges.
Tuesday saw a new start for the Solano County Board of Supervisors. We encourage its members, new, old and returning, to lead by example and take our recommended action.