By a 4-1 vote, members of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday granted themselves a 33 percent raise starting Jan. 5, boosting their annual salary from $97,483 to $129,227 per year.
The raise, opposed only by Candace Andersen, just one of the five supervisors, was not well-received by many in the community, particularly laborers, and also Contra Costa Times columnist Dan Borenstein.
“The 33 percent raise supervisors granted themselves was an arrogant display of greed that insulted taxpayers and workers alike,” Borenstein stated in a scathing column. “It follows negotiations that netted most county workers 4 percent increases this year and 3 percent in 2015, and comes as firefighters and nurses are still bargaining.”
County supervisors “stuffed their pockets” and destroyed goodwill ahead of contract negotiations, Borenstein added.
Ken Westermann, president of the Deputy Sheriffs Association, agreed, telling Borenstein the message that was sent to county workers is “just not right.”
Borenstein pointed out the pay increase doesn’t include health insurance, a $7,200 car allowance, retirement savings and increased pensions, “pushing their total annual compensation more than $200,000 each.”
The supervisors argued their salary increase, the first since 2007, was long overdo and meant to offer pay that is comparable with other counties in the state. We published a chart Tuesday showing comparisons with some counties.
Supervisor John Gioia said he voted in favor of the agenda item in part because it would, going forward, make it so the Board of Supervisors no longer has the power to make decisions on their salaries. The vote made it so that supes must from now on be paid 70-percent of Superior Court judges salaries, a common practice used by other counties. Judge salaries are set by the state Legislature.
Gioia also said some county workers are due for salary adjustments.
Richmond Standard readers who responded to a Facebook poll before the vote Tuesday were vehemently opposed to the increase, with one saying his wife is a county worker who hasn’t received a raise in five years because the county was out of money.
“Yeah, good luck trying to get my vote,” Jose Vargas said in the post.
Margaret Strader called the move “greed” and said supervisors “have nerve to do this.”