After a motion by District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler, Madera County’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to drop the proposed plan to give themselves a 25% pay increase.
Wheeler opened the brief discussion saying he would like to see the board receive a 3% raise, more in line with other county employees, and then made the motion to drop the pay increase completely.
His motion was seconded by District 4 Supervisor Max Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said his district is economically distressed and if people feel “we should not have the raise, so be it, I’m fine with that.”
District 1 Supervisor Brett Frazier told Wheeler pulling the pay raise off the table was “absolutely the right thing to do,” noting he felt it would negatively affect the upcoming sales tax increase for police and fire protection.
“That took courage for you to realize that and I appreciate and thank you for that,” Frazier told Wheeler. “This job takes a ton of work and takes time away from family and friends - I appreciate everything everyone on this board does, but the job currently pays well.”
District 3 Supervisor and Board Chairman Rick Farinelli said he works very hard with all the departments in the county, and most of that work goes unnoticed. Earlier, he said he wanted people to pay attention (due to the pay raise) to the work that supervisors do.
“I was wrong on that and I apologize for that,” Farinelli said. “I will vote not on this (pay) increase.”
Before the vote, Wheeler noted that being a supervisor is a full time job.
“That was my purpose for bringing this up,” Wheeler said. “We need people here that do not have to have a second job to make ends meet. I supported it from day one because it is a full time job, not a part time job.”
Currently supervisors Wheeler, Rodriguez, and David Rogers are paid $79,397 annually, while Farinelli and Frazier are paid $75,616. The salaries for Wheeler, Rodriguez and Rogers are based on a formula that pays them 42% of what Madera County Superior Court judges are paid, while the formula provides Farinelli and Frazier’s 40% of the judges salary.
The proposed pay increase would have been based on a new formula raising the 40% to 50% for Farinelli and Frazier as supervisors with 0-5 years of service, and from 42% to 52.5% for Wheeler, Rodriguez and Rogers who have more than six years of service.
The proposal would have increased the annual pay for Wheeler, Rodriguez and Rogers by 25% to $99,246, and Farinelli and Frazier would have also received ll also see a 25% pay raise to $94,520.
Earlier, John Pero, coordinator of the Oakhurst/Coarsegold/Mariposa Tea Party called the proposed increase “typical of the Board of Supervisors’ misguided priorities in a tight economy.”
“I was glad to see that the Board of Supervisors decided to drop their request for a pay increase,” Pero said after the vote. “The sad part is that it took a lot of public pressure to hold them accountable and convince them this was a bad idea in the first place and another example of misguided priorities instead of making fire protection the first priority for the county. Remember, ‘eternal vigilance by the citizens is the price of liberty.’”
Tuesday’s vote came a day after the board approved the controversial Austin Quarry 3-2.
In late August, supervisors also voted in favor of “longevity pay” for six elected county department heads.
Those department heads include Sheriff Jay Varney (current salary $165,624), District Attorney David Linn ($174,252), Assessor Gary Svanda ($137,136), Auditor-Controller Todd Miller ($146,952), Clerk-Recorder Rebecca Martinez ($124,620) and Treasurer-Tax Collector Tracy Kennedy ($134,616).
The new longevity pay will provide a 5% increase to those amounts after five years of service, and an additional 5% after eight years of service. The elected department heads were the last people in the county to receive the longevity pay. A similar scale has been in place for the supervisors, with a one-time 5% increase after five years of service.