Supervisors give themselves a raise, again

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Supervisors voted themselves a raise for the second time this year. But this time it was the result of rewarding one of the County’s most crucial officials for pulling double duty for the last four years.

At its Sept. 18 meeting, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted to give Rita Woodard, the County’s auditor-controller/treasurer-tax collector/registrar of voters, a 5% increase. Woodard’s salary was increased from $124,396 to $1230,615 per year.

County Administrative Officer Gene Rousseau told the Supervisors when Woodard was elected as treasurer-tax collector/registrar of voters in 2006, the County asked her to also take over the auditor-controller. It was pointed out the two positions have been separate since the formation of Tulare County’s government in the 1800s. He said the County promised Woodard she would be compensated for her additional duties after the county’s financial situation “calmed down to see how it worked.”

“Well, it worked pretty well,” Rousseau said. “The department is in better shape than it has probably ever been.”

By combining the two elected positions into one the County saved approximately $800,000 over the last four years, Supervisor Steve Worthley told those in attendance. He said at the time the Supervisors made the decision, they received criticism but it has created a more efficient government.

“The increase [of 5%] is way, way, way less than the amount we would be paying in two salaries,” he said.

Weldon Bud Brumely of Exeter said he believes a lot of Tulare County residents are confused as to how much Supervisors are making and how often they receive raises.

“I can’t figure out what you are doing,” Brumley said. “I think it needs to be said in plain English, not using the language of Harvard,” said Brumley, a former Superintendent of Stone Corral Elementary in Seville. Any increase to one of the County’s four elected officials – Auditor/Controller/Tax Collector, Treasurer/Registrar of Voters/Assessor, District Attorney and Sheriff – generates a reciprocal increase to the Board of Supervisors. Rousseau said the Supervisors’ raise is calculated by dividing the increase in the official’s salary by four, the number of elected officials.

For example, Woodard’s 5% increase triggered a 1.25% increase for each of the Supervisors. In other counties, Supervisor salary increases are tied to increases in state judge salaries and several other methods.

“We are not allowed to take the raise in the same year,” Supervisor Allen Ishida said. “It rolls over to the next year.”

Ishida said the reason the Supervisors will be receiving a raise after getting one in July is because traditionally the County’s four elected officials get their raises at the same time. However, Ishida said a few years some of the county officials “weren’t doing their jobs” and the supervisors withheld pay raises for several years. This threw the County’s compensation increases off schedule and now the County is finally catching up.

To avoid confusion in the future, Ishida said the Supervisors were going to make ordinance changes as to how the Board’s compensation is considered, how much the increases are and when it takes effect. The Supervisors then voted unanimously to give Woodard the 5% raise, but Worthley and Vander Poel said they would not take the increase.

“I will be deferring any increase in my compensation until such time when we can address the needs of all Tulare County employees and not just a portion of them,” Vander Poel said.

If that holds true, Supervisors Ishida, Cox and Mike Ennis will see their salaries increase from $94,497 to $95,678. Since the chairman and vice chairman already make 8% and 4% more respectively. The vice chair salary will increase from $98,276 to $99,504. The chair’s salary will increase from $102,056 to $103,331.

Supervisor Phil Cox broke down the raise and said it amounted to an additional $30 per pay period before making his vote. Unlike most Counties, Tulare County publically notices any increases in salary for Supervisors.

Rousseau said the raise will be publically noticed on Jan. 1, 2013 and will not take effect until March 2013.

It is the second raise the Supervisors have received this year. In August, the Supervisors voted themselves a raise. Supervisors Worthley and Vander Poel voted against the increase. which passed 3-2. That raise was calculated by splitting the cost of living increase of 2.75% and the average 10% increase half of the County’s employees received in August. That raise will take effect on Oct. 21.

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