LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — The Board of Supervisors held a discussion on its members’ compensation levels on Tuesday, but took no immediate steps to change them before the upcoming new fiscal year budget.
At her last meeting as County Administrative Officer, Carol Huchingson, along with Director of Human Resources Pam Samac, whose department is part of Huchingson, presented supervisors with a report on how their salaries compared to those of their colleagues in 12 other comparison counties in the state.
These 12 counties were used for the county’s classification and compensation study, which led the board to approve a total of $21 million in increases in separate actions taken in the fall of 2020, when $5 million was approved, and in the fall of 2021 when they agreed to another $16 million, as reported by Lake County News.
When the first round of increases was approved in October 2020, the board did not approve increases for its members. Their salaries remained frozen at $63,714 a year, with the president receiving an additional $2,400.
Huchington said she wanted to put the current salary of board members into perspective, explaining that the vast majority of management employees earn more than the base salary of supervisors.
Samac said she looked at the county code for each of the 12 comparison counties to see how they paid their supervisors, and verified that by the state comptroller’s report on their salaries.
She and Huchingson suggested that if the board reverted to a methodology it had before its members’ salary freeze, at which time the board received 60% of the average salary of elected department heads, the base pay rate for supervisors would be $85,855 per year. This is an increase of almost 35%.
Reviewing the other dozen counties, “wages are all over the place,” Huchington said, without much consistency.
Some of those counties base their salary expectations on board members who only work Tuesdays or meeting days, but Huchisson added that she knows the long hours county board members work. of Lake.
Another option is to base supervisor salaries on a percentage of state-set salaries for Superior Court judges, which now stand at $225,074 per year.
Huchingson’s written report noted that in neighboring Colusa County, the salary level for supervisors is 33% of judges’ salaries, or $74,274 per year. In Sonoma County, it reaches 75%, or $168,805 per year.
Samac said some of the comparison counties also have a car allowance, in the form of allowance or mileage.
The mileage was made available to the Lake County Board of Directors, but Huchington said no one had claimed it in years.
Council members also received allowances for the use of their cell phones. Earlier in the meeting, the board took action to roll back the county’s 15-year-old wireless communications device policy and replaced it with a new smartphone policy.
Like the old policy, the new smartphone policy pays specific county employees — including supervisors, elected officials, department heads, and county executive employees who have demonstrated a need — for the use of their phones.
Supervisor Bruno Sabatier said Huchisson and Samac sent him a document from Los Angeles County that spells out the responsibilities of supervisors. He said he wanted Lake County to have a similar document that shows what is expected of those in those roles.
Sabatier said he felt the president’s additional $2,400 salary was not enough and should eventually be doubled.
“It takes more hours of the day to be able to deal with some of the things that come up,” he said, adding that the president is involved in a much more strategic conversation.
Council Chairman EJ Crandell said he liked the idea of pegging supervisors’ salaries to judges’ salaries. He said the issue was controversial and drew negative attention with respect to board members deciding their own salaries.
Supervisor Jessica Pyska said she also wanted to see the Los Angeles County responsibilities document. She said she felt there had been a lot of growth in what the board members were doing and she wanted people to understand that this is a full-time job and what responsibilities that implies.
Crandell suggested that if the board did not want to accept raises, it should ask staff members to help them with their jobs.
Supervisor Tina Scott said the workload is different today than it was five years ago and has gone from part-time to full-time, partly because of committee assignments.
Scott, who is leaving her seat in July to take a job with the Lakeport Unified School District, said she would like to see raises. She said she was trying to find someone willing to fill her position and the qualified people she found weren’t willing to do so because of the salary.
Pyska pointed out that two board members — referring to Crandell and Sabatier — are running for re-election unopposed this year. She said that qualified people have better jobs.
Supervisor Moke Simon said he also wanted the salaries of the board to be linked to those of the judges.
“At this point, I’m not pushing for a raise,” just the conversation, Simon said.
Sabatier also agreed to link the salaries of supervisors and judges. However, like Simon, he also didn’t want to push for a change immediately.
On the contrary, Sabatier said he wanted to do nothing until the county had a balanced budget.
He pointed out that during the council’s mid-year budget review, staff reported that the county had to borrow a lot of cannabis money to ensure the budget was balanced to cover the millions of salary increases.
The discussion ended with the board giving no direction to staff on whether to pursue increases at this time.