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Despite Opposition, County Supervisors Vote To Increase Their Salaries

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is shown in this photo, Jan. 10, 20...

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Above: The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is shown in this photo, Jan. 10, 2017.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to increase their own salaries by more than $19,000 each year, despite public comment by about two dozen opponents.

“The formula for establishing supervisors' salaries has not been adjusted in decades,'' Supervisor Ron Roberts said before the 4-1 vote. “Board members salaries have increased less than 1 percent over the last nine years, and the adjustment before us today is fair and reasonable.''

Newly seated Supervisor Kristin Gaspar cast the lone dissenting vote, as did her predecessor, Dave Roberts, when the raise was first proposed last month. Gaspar said she has been responsible for overseeing compensation packages in her family’s business.

“One of the first questions that I always ask myself is: is the compensation appropriate for the work performed?” Gaspar said, before her first vote as a supervisor. “Now, awkwardly, I sit here having been sworn in just 24 hours ago and I will be the first to admit that I don’t know how to get past that first fundamental question. So I won’t be supporting the motion on the floor today.”

The vote officially alters the way the supervisors' pay will be calculated. They were making 80 percent of the base salary of Superior Court judges in California, or around $153,000 per year. The new formula raises the mark to 85 percent on March 17, and 90 percent one year from now.

The total increase will bring their salary to $172,450 and amounts to a 12.5 percent pay raise within 12 months.

Newt Ferris of the First Unitarian Universalist Church, said studies show that poverty in San Diego is now higher than it was during the recession. He said the supervisors’ rainy day reserves are now almost $2 billion and he urged the supervisors to invest more in services than in themselves.

Related: County Supervisors Add To Their Pension Payouts During Last Term In Office

Roberts was joined by board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob and Supervisors Greg Cox and Bill Horn in voting for the raise. All four are in their final terms on the board because of term limits.

“There's a disconnect between what you're doing and what your constituents are telling you,'' said Christina Imhoff. “There's suffering going on among your constituents.'' Imhoff appeared on behalf of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego.

“A lot of what you have said in justification of this raise is not fair and reasonable,'' Imhoff said. “You are taking away money from people who are suffering. Children do not have enough to eat thanks to your restrictions on food stamps.''

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Opponents gathered in the County Administration Building as the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to give themselves a raise, Jan. 10, 2016.

A statement from Ron Roberts office said the pay hikes will cost the county an extra $17,688 in the remainder of the current fiscal year, and $88,438 for the next fiscal year.

The supervisors pensions are based on their final years’ salary so they will also get an increased pension when they leave office. Ron Roberts and Bill Horn will retire in two years, while Dianne Jacob and Greg Cox retire in four.

“I challenge all of you to come and walk a mile in my shoes, be an office assistant for a week, for a day,'' Deanna Alexander-Myers said, breaking into tears. “There are county employees who would love to have a 12.5 percent raise.''

Alexander-Myers said she is a 30-year county employee who will probably not be able to afford to retire. “If you can do it for yourselves, you darn well better come with it for the county employees and the San Diego County community,'' she said. “There are so many things we need, but we do not need to spend $90,000 a year on your retirement when we as a community are suffering.''

“When we get to the budget next year and we are also in negotiations with many of our labor organization, I think you’ll find that this board adjusts the priorities appropriately,” said Dianne Jacob, board chair for the calendar year 2017.

Before approving the salary increase, the supervisors had unanimously elected Dianne Jacob as board chair.

Gaspar was voted in as the vice chair and Cox will serve as chair pro temp.

Gaspar chose to be officially sworn in by San Diego city’s mayor Kevin Faulconer, an indication of her stated intention to collaborate with the city on the region’s problems.

“My top priority is to create accountable plans to clearly define a goal and to produce results in the challenging are of homelessness and regional public safety,” Gaspar said.

Supervisor Greg Cox was sworn in to a sixth term by his wife Cheryl Cox, while Supervisor Dianne Jacob, starting a record seventh term in office, chose to be sworn in by county Sheriff Bill Gore.

This is the final term for Cox and Jacob who will be termed out in four years.

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