February 4, 2020 - I am both appalled and disappointed with how the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors, particularly the Supervisors in Districts 4 and 5, orchestrated their own salary increase. I am especially disappointed in the Supervisor for District 1, as I have always thought that she had, not only integrity, but also did her best to serve her constituents – I was wrong.
I am angry at the arrogance of the four Supervisors that pushed this through under the radar and showed a total lack of respect for the Mariposa County citizens, the vast majority of which oppose this massive raise and make much less than the $30,000 raise that the Board voted for themselves. I am angry that they did this after the budget hearings; that they did this after the deadline for filing as a candidate for Supervisor in Districts 2, 4, and 5, had passed; that they did this during the holiday season when most of their constituents were otherwise occupied; and I am especially angry that, while the preponderance of the speakers during the public hearing (other than several Department heads) were against the raise, the public will was totally ignored and the Board voted to feather their own nest.
I am angry that the Board of Supervisors and the CAO do not have their focus on the benefit of the citizens of Mariposa County as they should, and swore an oath to do, but only on their own benefit. I expected this of the Supervisor for District 4 whose only focus since being elected has been what can most benefit Yosemite National Park. However, I did expect better from the others and only one, the Supervisor for District 3, voted to oppose this massive raise.
I am angry about the almost $30,000 raise that the Board of Supervisors just voted for themselves - an increase to 40% of a Superior Court Judge's salary from the current 25%. That means their annual compensation will go from the current $54,000 to $82,000 + benefits or an increase in cost to the County budget of $184,777, which equates to more than $10 for every man, woman, and child in Mariposa County (the current County population is less than 18,000). It is also important for people to know that the Board members receive an additional amount as well, which they can take in cash, for deferred compensation or insurance. The additional cash makes, not only their retirement higher, but it also spikes their social security amounts. If you add in these extra amounts, then they will be making in cash alone around $92,000 not the $82,000. That does not include their medical benefits amount plus their life insurance policies. What does this mean? It means that both the incumbent (District 5) and lame ducks (District 2 and 4) will get a boost to their monthly retirement checks as each of them has been with the County for more than 5 years.
During the presentation to the Board by the HR director Kimberly Williams, she stated that the Board had not had any raises since 1991. This is, in fact, incorrect as the Board salaries have increased over the years just as the Superior Court Judge's salary has increased approximately 3% annually. The salary increase has been discussed for over a year per Ms. Williams, yet there was no mention of it during the County budget hearings (a $184,777 increase is quite an amount to come out of the budget, particularly as several items were not funded as the Board didn't feel that they had sufficient funds to fund all budget requests) nor was it mentioned prior to the deadline for candidates filing to fill the seats in Districts 2, 4, and 5. The candidates running for those 3 seats on the Board are currently running unopposed unless write-in candidates come forward. Ms. Williams also stated that she was the one that brought this item forward and that she went against the Board by bringing up the salary increase. If that is in fact true, and I sincerely doubt it, that would then be insubordination and she should be terminated. When taken as a whole, it appears that this entire scenario was orchestrated and staged for the public.
This is why I am working to rescind this massive increase in the salaries for the Board of Supervisors and submit it for a vote of the people. All of these people knew what the salary was when they ran for the position and were seemingly satisfied with it. I feel that the $184,777 increase (salary + benefits) in the County budget would be better spent on fixing our crumbling roads, filling pot-holes, and keeping the right-of-ways clear of brush and weeds or helping off-set fees for the majority of the people in the County that make much less than the $30,000 raise that the Board voted for themselves. I'm hoping that the Board of Supervisors does the right thing in the face of widespread public outrage, rescinds the ordinance, and puts the raise to a vote of the people.
This has certainly been a steep learning curve for all of us involved in this fight, but on the bright side, it can serve as a template for the next time the public wants to challenge an edict by the Board of Supervisors. This issue resonates with the public and they are angry. I am angry. Who gets to vote themselves a raise anyway?!!! It is time (long overdue IMHO) to bring County government back to what it's supposed to be - a government of the people, for the people, and BY the people.
Please step up, Mariposa, sign the referendum petition to repeal the 60% raise for the members of the Board of Supervisors and have a say in how YOUR County is governed and YOUR tax dollars are spent! Would you rather spend an additional $184,777 annually of YOUR taxpayer dollars on a massive raise for the Board of Supervisors or on fixing the roads and potholes? Doesn't seem like a tough decision to me!
Catheys Valley, CA