The Madera County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to waive the first reading of the board’s proposed 25% salary increase Tuesday, and set Sept. 13 to vote on the matter.
Currently supervisors Tom Wheeler, Max Rodriguez, and David Rogers are paid $79,397 annually, while Rick Farinelli and Brett 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 new formula raises 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.
If approved on Sept. 13, the annual pay for Wheeler, Rodriguez and Rogers will increase 25% to $99,246, and Farinelli and Frazier will also see a 25% pay raise to $94,520. If approved, the pay hike would go into affect Dec. 1.
Rogers and Frazier were the two supervisors who voted no Tuesday.
Rogers said he has never voted for a pay increase of any kind for himself in the 14 years he has served the public, adding, “I’m not going to change that now.”
Farinelli will have little time to enjoy the raise if approved as he was defeated in the June primaries, to be replaced on the board Jan. 1 by Madera City Mayor Robert Poythress.
“We have said all along that we do not pay board members what they should be getting for the time put in, the knowledge of what every county department does, all the rules and regulations that the feds, state and county have that we have to be be well versed in, and to be able to get quality people to run for this 24-7 job,” Wheeler said. “You can’t do this job part time if you are going to do it right.”
Surrounding counties also pay their supervisors using a percentage based on Superior Court judge pay including Fresno ($113,425 - 60%), Kern ($105,059 - 55%), Merced ($100,059 - 53%), Tulare ($90,381 - 48%) and Kings ($74,009 - 34%).
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’m not against county workers making more income, but our board of supervisors need to fix their lack of priorities and fund our fire departments first, not their bank accounts,” Pero wrote in a prepared statement (full text can be seen on page 10A).
Dale Drozen, a long-time critic of county government who recently bought a home in Madera County (Rolling Hills) while maintaining a home in Clovis the past six years, said it’s not realistic to compare Madera County with Fresno County as Madera County supervisors oversee a $266 million budget compared to the $2 billion in Fresno County.
“Looking at supervisor salaries in surrounding counties does not justify this raise for Madera County supervisors,” Drozen said. “The supervisors pay should be based on the budgets and number of employees they oversee and the responsibilities and workload they have. Madera and Fresno counties are not even close to comparing apples to apples.”
Along with their own potential raise, supervisors will also decide on “longevity pay” for six elected county department heads on Sept. 13.
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 scale would 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.
The recommendations are from Madera County Administrative Officer Eric Fleming. After a compensation study by Cooperative Personnel Services of Sacramento last year, it was recommended county salaries be adjusted to the median of surrounding counties.
According to Fleming, the study was done to make sure Madera County was being competitive with neighboring counties.
Supervisors implemented the portion of the study that covered all public safety positions in January and the reminder of the positions in July. Although the actual increases varied by position, on average, there was a 10% increase in salaries for all positions, according to Fleming.