Supes split on raise

On Tuesday, Jan. 13, in a 2-2 vote, the Madera County Board of Supervisors made the tough decision to deny a 29% pay increase to their own annual salaries.

In an internally controversial split decision supervisors Brett Frazier (District 1) and Chairman David Rogers (District 2) voted against a pay increase while District 5 representative Tom Wheeler and District 3 representative Rick Ferinelli voted for a pay increase. District 4 representative Max Rodriquez was absent for the vote and a majority vote was needed for approval.

The decisions to deny the raise comes after the board recently approved a 5% COLA for all county employees.

As part county ordinance supervisors salaries are directly linked to the salaries of county superior court judges and should be 40% of judges salaries.

The discussion of increased supervisors salaries seemed to be well overdue as the board had refused a 1.4% increase in 2013 and a 1.83% increase in 2014 despite judges receiving those adjustments placing the supervisors annual salary nearly 5% behind the 40% ordinance. In fact Madera County supervisors have not received any type of salary adjustment since 2007, the longest of any position in the county.

If approved the request to raise the supervisors salaries by 29% would have taken the average salary from $71,515 to $92,254.

Madera County Administrative Officer Eric Fleming, who has not received a raise since being hired in 2010, also recently received a 10% longevity bump in pay and said he felt the county employees pay increases were long overdue to compensate for the rising cost of living.

“There was also a growing concern about retaining our employees and staying competitive as an employer. We invest a lot of time and money into training our employees and that investment is lost if they leave to another County for higher pay. Now that we’ve addressed employee salaries, it was time to consider a long overdue adjustment in the Board’s salaries,” Fleming said.

The approved employee increase came after three years of furloughs which equaled a more than 9% reduction in pay. The board also took a pay reduction during furloughs equal to more than 9%.

“The last two years we have denied our own raise so we have dropped about 5% from where we should be. We individually took salary decreases during furloughs which cut us by about 9%,” Rogers said.

When asked why he voted against his own pay increase Rogers said he felt that now was not the right time and the percentage of increase was far too much for the county at this time.

“At this time the raise was way too high,” Rogers said. “There is no doubt that we all work very hard and put in the hours. The job now requires board members to be full-time. We sit on an inordinate number of commissions and boards and it’s very time demanding and the idea of being a part-time statesman has almost disappeared. But I felt like the increase was too much and given the light of what we have had to go through over the past several years in keeping our employees below the pay they deserve,” Rogers said. “There is no doubt we are out of line with what we do but the increase is too significant at this time. It needs to be fazed in over time this was too significant.”