While there is no perfect way to insulate the body from unseemly decisions, I have never really been bothered personally by the prospect of a pay raise. The main reason for that is that legislative bodies are generally paid sufficiently less than comparable private sector jobs. Moreover, the air of public scrutiny is usually sufficient to prevent unseemly money grabs by the officials.
The big controversy surrounding the County Supervisors right now is that they voted to change the formula by which their salaries are calculated. Previously they tied their salary to one-third of what a Superior Court judge earns. The supervisors decided to increase that to 40 percent.
The current pay for Yolo County supervisors is $49,730. Given that this is a full-time job that pay does not represent a very large salary. The average salary in California for a County Supervisor is $64,515. That’s not exactly a rich person’s salary either. But that certainly is more livable than the current pay for County Supervisors.
Sacramento County supervisors earn $82,000 while Solano County supervisors make just under $80,000. To live in Yolo County, you’d have to have a second salary to augment the below median salary you are getting for being a County Supervisor.
Given that this is a beyond full-time job it seems rather obvious that unless you are independently wealthy or have a spouse pulling down a strong second income, a lot of people are not going to be able to afford to be a county supervisor. It is the same problem that we mentioned with the compensation for being a Davis City Council member–$500 per month. While it seems like a good idea to have small pay for public servants, the reality is that that severely restricts who can afford to serve.
A Superior Court Judge in comparison will make $175,000 by July 1, 2007. The increase of 33 percent to 40 percent means a pay raise from $63,000 to $70,000 or a forty percent pay raise over the current salary. That still does not allow Yolo County Supervisors to catch up to their neighbors, but it does close the gap. And it certainly makes the pay more competitive with private sector jobs that they have to give up to serve the public.
This seems like a necessary change if we are to attract good people who are not all independently wealthy.
For that reason, I see no reason for statements like the one made by Matt Rexroad who is refusing to take an pay increase, that he did not even vote on.
“When I was elected as a Supervisor on November 8th the pay was set at a certain amount. That is the amount I will make during my entire four years as a Supervisor.
Tomorrow the agenda has a pay raise item for Supervisors. It would take the base pay of 33% of a judge to 40% of a judge. It may pass but I will not accept it. I also will not accept the travel allowance.”
We understand that Rexroad probably doesn’t need his Supervisor’s salary to survive, however, we believe in a system where you don’t have to be as well off as Rexroad to serve our county. Paying an additional $7,000 per year doesn’t seem like a big trade off to us for properly compensating our elected official for their strong work and commitment to our governance.
—Doug Paul Davis reporting