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CoCo Board Of Supervisors Mull Giving Themselves $32K Raise

MARTINEZ (CBS SF) -- The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors is set to decide Tuesday whether or not to give itself a $32,000 raise.

The board will vote on a proposed ordinance that would bump up their annual salaries by about 33 percent, from $97,483 to $129,227 per year, according to county documents.

The board is poised to approve the salary boost after voting 4-1 last week to direct county staffers to draft an ordinance for the proposed increase.

If adopted, the raise would be the board's first salary hike since 2006, when the county supervisors voted to give themselves a 60 percent pay raise, followed in 2007 by a 2 percent cost of living increase, according to county officials.

The proposed $32,000 increase amounts to about 70 percent of a Contra Costa County Superior Court judge's salary, according to county officials.

As part of the salary proposal, the board has the option to permanently equate their salaries to a percentage of the Superior Court judges' income. Contra Costa County is one of three Bay Area counties that doesn't tie its salaries to those of superior court judges, according to County Administrator David Twa.

Except for San Francisco County, where the Board of Supervisors sets its salary by civil commission every five years, and San Mateo County, which also establishes its salary by ordinance, most Bay Area county supervisors have set their salaries at anywhere from 47 to 80 percent of county judicial salaries, according to Twa.

"There's always concern and backlash to any increase, and my hope is that by setting it long-term to where we think it should be, it just institutionalizes an ongoing linkage that takes it out of our hands," Supervisor John Gioia said at the board's meeting last Tuesday.

Most of his colleagues say that while the board approving its own raises is always controversial, a pay increase is overdue.

Supervisor Karen Mitchoff called the proposed salary hike "reasonable" and noted that even with the increase, the supervisors' salaries would fall below those of county department heads, for whom the board recently approved raises.

Supervisor Candace Andersen, the sole "no" vote for the proposed increase, said now isn't the time for the board to gives itself a raise beyond 2 or 3 percent, which is comparable to the raises being offered to county employees.

"We lead by example, and I've spent the last two and a half years saying to employees, 'I can't compare our salaries for some of these larger counties because we're just in a different situation'," she said.

Representatives from some county workers' unions are also taking issue with board's proposed raise.

"If you take action to give yourself raises now, you are sending a strong message to the working people in this county - that you don't care about their financial well-being, only your own," Public Employees Union, Local 1 business agent Eileen Bissen told the board.

Vince Wells, a Contra Costa County Fire Protection District captain and president of the fire district's union, Local 1230, questioned the timing of the board's proposed salary raise, noting that his union is also overdue for a raise. He said the union has had 12 meetings with county negotiators to work out a new contract and expects there to be a dozen more meetings before any agreement is reached.

"We would hope you would apply the same level of respect for your employees as you do for yourselves and where your compensation should be," Wells said, addressing the board.

The Board of Supervisors meeting starts Tuesday at 9 a.m. in the Board Chambers at the County Administration Building at 651 Pine St. in Martinez.

© Copyright 2014 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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