“It’s always politically charged when you talk about supervisor’s salaries,” said Mono County Supervisor Vikki Bauer at Tuesday’s regular Board meeting in Bridgeport.
Her fellow Supervisor Hap Hazard was looking for consensus to continue the current freeze on Board salaries His goal was to show support for the employees who have also been on a pay freeze for the past few years.
Supervisor Larry Johnston took Hazard’s idea one-step further and suggested that the Board also take a 4.3 percent reduction in pay.
Johnston has already taken a voluntary reduction in his pay by choosing to refund 25 percent of the car allowance available to him per month. This allowance is considered part of the supervisor’s salary.
Ultimately, each supervisor may choose what to do with his or her salary, according to County Counsel Marshall Rudolph, which meant that the Board’s discussion on Tuesday was non-binding.
As Hazard stated, “we are just making good faith motions.”
Plus, any changes the Board came to consensus upon would only be in relation to future terms. No current seat or current candidate for a seat on the Board would be affected by the Board’s decision on Tuesday.
“When you file candidacy paperwork you are essentially accepting the current ‘contract’ for the Board of Supervisors,” Rudolph explained.
The soonest any change would be enforced would be two years down the road.
Rudolph added that irrevocably waiving pieces of salary, such as Johnston had, makes that portion of the salary non-taxable.
“You never receive the pay so it isn’t taxed,” Rudolph said.
“I’m glad to take a 5 percent cut to show we’re serious,” said Supervisor Tim Hansen.
Supervisor Byng Hunt, however, referred to the 23-county salary survey the County has been using as a reference point to compare its salaries to other counties throughout the state.
“We are right in the middle of the survey pack,” Hunt said. “We’ve shown we’re serious. Really this begs the bigger question of what supervisors should be getting.”
Johnston made a motion to reduce pay but it failed 3-2 with only Hansen voting with him in support.
According to the salary survey, which was compiled earlier this year, according to Mono County CAO Jim Arkens, Mono County supervisors make $4,109 per month which includes all of their benefits, car allowance, PERS, etc. (Note: According to Supervisor Larry Johnston, however, that $4,109 is the base pay for a normal supervisor. The Board Chair receives a slightly higher salary and car allowance according to Johnston. Supervisors receive PERS, health benefits and a car allowance on top of this base pay, but that’s where it gets tricky. Each supervisor can choose to take or not take the benefits available to them. “It is confusing,” Johnston stated.)
In comparison, El Dorado supervisors make more than $6,000 per month while Tehama County supervisors collect just a little more than $1,000 per month. The average pay, according to the survey is $3,997.
The Board ended up breaking their remaining votes into three separate motions.
First, it voted 3-2 to continue the freeze on its salaries. Johnston and Hansen voted no because they wanted to see a cut in salary, not just a continued freeze.
Second, the Board voted 3-2 to not increase its pay until employee’s pay could also be increased. Again Johnston and Hansen voted no.
“I’m voting no because this is completely nebulous,” Johnston said.
“It’s no less nebulous then making a motion to reduce our pay that can’t be enforced for two years,” Bauer said heatedly, referring to Johnston’s earlier, failed motion.
The Board was able to unanimously agree, however, on the final motion to take up the salary discussion again whenever the salary survey changes.
“I love it when we end the day with all of us agreeing,” Bauer concluded.