The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to increase their own salaries by more than $19,000 a year, despite public comment by dozens of opponents.
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“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 dissenting vote, as did her predecessor, Dave Roberts, when the raise was first proposed last month.
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 first increase amounts to a 12.5 percent pay raise.
Nancy Cuskaden was among those who spoke against the proposal
“I think you people should think about your families,” Cuskaden said. “Their friends are going to talk about you. And what are they going to say, Ron? ‘Were you drunk the other day?'”
Cuskaden was standing a few feet away from Roberts when she made the comments from the public speaker’s podium.
“You all are so damn stupid. You’re building a damn bomb in this city,” Cuskaden said. “You’re an embarrassment.”
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,” Christina Imhoff told the board. “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.”
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 will also get an increased pension when they leave office.
“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.”
Before approving the salary increase, the supervisors unanimously elected Dianne Jacob as board chair for the calendar year 2017. Gaspar was voted in as the vice chair and Cox will serve as chair pro temp.
— City News Service
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