Why I’m Against Supervisor Pay Raises… Still

For the 2nd time in the last 6 months, the Supervisors have proposed raising their salaries. This time, they passed an increase from ~$53,000 to over $78,000, added a vehicle allowance of $5,000/year, and added an automatic cost of living increase to be granted at the same time the County’s largest union receives their scheduled increases. These changes will take effect on July 14 of this year.

I would have voted against this raise as I said in November too

Here is my thinking on the topic:

  • Supervisors should not be able to vote for pay increases that will benefit themselves. Ideally, the people would be given the chance to vote on a large one-time increase in pay like this and an annual increase. This currently may not be possible, but we may be able to add this to the county charter, making it possible in the future. If there is no way for the people to vote on supervisor pay, then supervisors should only be able to vote on increases that could not affect any of the existing supervisors. Raises would have to take effect after potential 2nd terms for all sitting supervisors. The United States Constitution requires this for presidential pay.
  • It’s inappropriate for supervisors to complain about the difficulty of living off $53,508/year. Yes, $53,508 is not a luxurious amount to live on, but it’s important we put it in perspective. The starting wage for many county employees is $17.40/hour, which amounts to $36,192/year. The average income per person in Shasta County is $33,507. If Supervisors are making the case that they can’t live off of $53,000, what does that mean for those working for the County making much less?
  • Supervisors should not increase their pay and draw on the General Fund, while requiring County Departments to maintain or cut their budgets and draw from the General Fund this budget cycle. This is an unfortunate example of “do what I say, not what I do” and it is poor leadership. 
  • The County should clarify whether the Supervisor role is a full-time or part-time commitment to help inform the appropriate pay. How can we determine a position’s annual salary if we don’t know how much the position is supposed to work? 
  • The County should compensate Supervisors for expenses incurred while doing the work of a Supervisor. While I would not have voted for a pay increase, I do believe it is right for the County to reimburse supervisors for travel expenses incurred while doing the job. These are essentially work expenses and should be covered either through an annual allowance or per mileage reimbursement.

It’s not that I’m saying Supervisors don’t deserve more pay. This vote is less about what pay is right and more about what good leadership looks like.

Good leaders are the first to sacrifice. They don’t ask their teams to do something they are not willing to do.

Good leadership also sets clear goals and then focuses the whole organization on achieving those goals. You can’t say funding the jail is the top priority and require budget cuts to free up funds for its construction, only to increase General Fund spending to increase supervisor compensation. Everyone across the whole county needs to get behind the primary goal and do their part to make it a reality. The vote today undercuts a primary goal of the Board.