Danville Express

Perspective - January 26, 2007

The year of raises

At the end of last year all three of our elected bodies gave themselves raises and in one case it was a bit mind-boggling: The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors raised itself by 59 percent.

It is true the school board of the San Ramon Valley Unified School District raised itself 100 percent when it went from $200 a month to $400. But given the amount of information trustees must process, their meetings, and the number of schools under their purview, $400 each seems a fair allocation of district funds. Indeed, with the phenomenal growth in the district, it is a bargain.

The Danville Town Council raised itself from $563 per month to $675, effective Jan. 1. This also seems in line with the members' responsibilities and the number of hours involved in making decisions for Danville plus performing on regional committees.

The county supervisors voted themselves an annual increase of $35,600, going from $59,916 to $95,568, saying this puts their salaries in line with supervisors in the other eight Bay Area counties. They also noted their board had gone 20 years without a salary review, although they did receive a slight bump in 2001, based on a fixed percentage. Granted the supervisors work long hours, including Mary N. Piepho of District 3, which covers a large geographic area. They also appear at many public functions, although this could be considered campaigning as well as a part of their supervisory duties.

But the county's credit rating has been affected by a $43 million deficit, and as a result last year the supervisors cut millions of dollars from health and human services. Their own raise should have been in keeping with that of other county employees, who have received 11 percent since 2001.

In private industry, raises are based partly on performance. The "bosses" of elected officials are their constituents, who speak when they vote. The good news is that $95,568 may attract well qualified candidates.


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