The Mono County Board of Supervisors met on Tuesday, June 15 to finalize the budget for the 2021 fiscal year.
This included approving salary increases for the county’s 40 at-will employees.
It also included the board itself voting on its own salary increase, not included in the original budget breakdown.
The salaries of board members will increase from $49,308 to $57,504, or 17%. The board chairperson’s wage will increase from $53,544 to $62,424.
The overall budget passed 5-0. However, the vote on the board salary increases was not unanimous.
The board passed its salary increase by 3-2.
Dissenters were Supervisors Bob Gardner and Stacy Corless.
Gardner’s reasoning was that the board members should not be allowed to increase their own salaries during their term without letting the taxpayers deliberate first.
Corless hoped to wait until mid-year to decide on the salary increases, in the hopes that by then, constituents would have had proper time to understand and process the changes.
In the end the vote to increase board member salaries was still passed, though both Corless and Gardner stated that they will not be taking the pay increase.
“Nobody takes this job in Mono County to become rich. This is not the place that you do it. But you do want to have a living wage. This job is much more than 3 meetings a month,” said board member Rhonda Duggan, who voted in favor of the pay increase.
As for the at-will employee increases, during the meeting, Finance Director Janet Dutcher stated that there have not been any increases made to salaries in the past decade.
This ignores raises the County gave just two years ago.
In April 2019, there was a $226,984 increase in salary expenditure for certain at-will employees. The Sheet’s Jack Benham covered this story and it can be found here: https://thesheetnews.com/2019/04/21/who-wants-to-be-it/. Substantial increases were granted to the County Administrative Officer, the Human Resources Director, Risk Manager, County Counsel, Public Works Director, Emergency Medical Services Chief, Community Development Director, Probation Chief, Behavioral Health and Social Services Directors, Public Health Director, Treasure/Tax collector, and Information Technology (IT) Director.
The only difference this time around is that the county hired an outside firm to do the analysis.
Back in 2019 the board hired a third party at first, but then ditched the consultant and negotiated with each at-will employee on a 1-1 basis.
A notable salary increase from 2019 was for the position of Information Technology (IT) Director Nate Greenberg, whose salary increased from $114,180 to $150,000- a $35,820 or 31.4% increase.
According to the “study” used in 2019, the median salary for IT directors in comparable counties was $121,780. The salary incorporating cost of living was $135,541, still almost $15,000 less than what Greenberg ultimately received.
In the most recent payola approved by Supervisors, Greenberg’s salary increased from $154,872 to $162,156.
That’s a $48,000 per year increase in two years.
On Tuesday, Sheriff Ingrid Braun made the biggest score, receiving a $19,000 raise.
In other news, the Mono County Behavioral Health (MCBH) presented both its 2021-2022 annual update and its 2020-2023 3-year plan.
MCBH presented a Community Program Planning survey administered across Mono County, consisting of 115 participants diversely dispersed, in light of the recent increase in death by suicide across the county.
MCBH identified the current most at-risk suicide demographic in Mono County to be white females between the ages of 25 and 35.
Respondents were from every community throughout the county, with over 20% from the LGBTQ+ community, and approximately 10% American Indian or Alaskan or Native, 13% African American or Black, 17% Hispanic or Latino.
Cultural competence and racial equity were big themes in Behavioral Health’s update.
A need to create more social opportunities that do not have alcohol involved in order to be connected was also emphasized.