Local News

Tuesday, Dec 18 2012 04:59 PM

Supervisors solidify changes to elected officials' pay raises

BY REBECCA KHEEL Californian staff writer rkheel@bakersfield.com

The ordinance establishing how pay raises for Kern County's elected officials will be determined was officially put in place at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.

In October, supervisors voted three to two to approve the changes in how pay raises will be calculated. Pay will go up automatically if California's consumer price index increases. But they will be capped at the lower of 3 percent or the average pay raise given to county workers. And there will be no increases during a declared fiscal emergency.

The changes only affect elected officials come their next term and does not affect anyone elected in the 2012 elections.

When supervisors approved the changes, they sent them to county staff to change the county ordinance. The ordinance was completed, and Tuesday, it was adopted unanimously.

Supervisor Ray Watson, who voted against the plan in October, continued to express some doubts about the changes, saying he worries the formula that was settled on will result in the salaries of officials who run county departments getting lower and lower relative to their top staff members. Those officials include the treasurer-tax collector, sheriff, district attorney, auditor-controller and assessor.

"That will put us in a position that we will not attract the quality needed to run a department," Watson said.

Supervisor Zack Scrivner said he sees Watson's point mattering in the long term, but reminded him and the public that elected department heads are due to receive a 4 percent raise in January 2013 and an additional 2 percent raise in 2014.

In other business at Tuesday's meeting:

* Departing supervisors Watson, Jon McQuiston and Karen Goh were honored for their years on the board. This was the last meeting for all three of them.

* County Administrative Officer John Nilon reported to the board what pension requirements for public employees are outlined in California's Public Employees' Pension Reform Act, passed by the state legislature in August. Some of these requirements include calculating pension on base pay only, contributing at least 50 percent to benefits and prohibiting retroactive benefit enhancements.

These provisions apply only to public employees hired on or after Jan. 1. Nilon told the board the county's existing benefit tiers meet the requirements of the act and that the county can continue offering them to people hired after Jan. 1.

* Supervisors approved adding four jobs to the county's general services garage that services county vehicles including sheriff's cars. They also approved adding one job to KGOV broadcasting and one to construction services.

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