Zone 7 general manager granted 15% raise

Regional water wholesaler's board votes 4-2 to approve pay bump

Zone 7 Water Agency's general manager was granted a 15% salary increase by the agency's Board of Directors at Wednesday's board meeting.

Jill Duerig will now be paid an annual base salary of $275,941.12, a raise of just under $36,000.

The Zone 7 board approved the pay bump in a 4-2 vote, with board members Angela Ramirez Holmes and Dick Quigley dissenting and Jim McGrail absent.

Duerig said her salary was kept mostly steady -- other than inflationary increases -- after the recession hit the water agency, and the new increase represents years of regular raises that did not occur.

"The board maintained my salary at well below the average to save money during the financial crisis," she said in an email interview. "With the adjustment, I will be only slightly below the average. The community saved a lot of money over the last five years because of these decisions."

She added: "This is the first major 'equity adjustment' the board has given me, although I have received inflationary adjustments to match those provided to the bargaining units under multi-year contracts, the most a 3% across-the-boards for all Zone 7 staff effective July 1 of this year. Equity adjustments are those for specific classifications that have fallen well below the mean of other Bay Area Agencies so that we don't start losing critical staff to other agencies."

Still, Ramirez Holmes said increasing Duerig's salary by 15% seemed excessive given the financial difficulties the agency had just stressed during its recent rate increase.

"Last month, we heard a lot about how we're headed off the fiscal cliff," she said in a follow-up interview. "And just the next month, there's a 15% increase by the general manager. It just doesn't make a lot of sense."

A regional water wholesaler, Zone 7 raised its wholesale rate by roughly 33% at its October meeting, citing fiscal hardship brought upon by a historic unwillingness to raise rates, a large buildup of capital improvement projects that require imminent funding and reduced revenue due to drought conservation.

Rates increased from $2.36 per 100 cubic feet of water (CCF) to $3.15 per CCF.

Zone 7 sells potable water wholesale to four local water-service providers, including the Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD), which in turn deliver the water to residents, businesses and other customers. Zone 7 is also responsible for flood control in the Livermore and Amador valleys.

At DSRSD, now-retired general manager Bert Michalczyk's most recent annual base salary was $294,108, which took effect in July, according to DSRSD human resources supervisor Michelle Gallardo. Michalczyk retired earlier this month, and a permanent successor has not yet been selected.

DSRSD handles water and wastewater services for areas of the Tri-Valley.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) pays its general manager Alexander Coate a base annual salary of $251,346, with total compensation package of $444,977 including benefits and all other compensation.

EBMUD is a water and wastewater retailer that provides services parts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Contra Costa Water District pays its general manager Jerry Brown $268,715 a year in base salary, according to his most recent contract.

Contra Costa Water is a water retailer for parts of northern Contra Costa County.

Deliberations on Duerig's salary were completed in closed session and reported out after the regular open session Wednesday night in Livermore. Duerig said the regular closed session meeting, which happens before open session starts at 7 p.m., ran long, so negotiations on her salary were tabled until after the board's open session was finished.

Ramirez Holmes confirmed Deurig's salary negotiations completed after open session.

She said closed session initially began at 5:30 p.m. and because the board hadn't gotten through all of its closed-session items by 7 p.m., they decided to vote on the salary negotiation after open session business had concluded, rather than before. The board re-entered closed session around 8:30 p.m. and concluded the meeting about 15 to 20 minutes later, she said.

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Like this comment
Posted by David
a resident of Danville
on Nov 23, 2015 at 9:37 am

Sounds about right.

Like this comment
Posted by vj
a resident of Danville
on Nov 23, 2015 at 11:26 am

salaries listed for a public utility company is astronomical. Total compensation is unbelievably high. I did not know that the pay for the water company is this high.

9 people like this
Posted by skooter
a resident of Alamo
on Nov 23, 2015 at 11:58 am

Let's for the government or private industry? Wow, why really work when you can float thru on the publics' dollar and get a cost of living increase even in bad years! And retire with boku benies for life.

Now that was a course not offered when I was in college. Is it now?

Like this comment
Posted by Del Robison
a resident of Blackhawk
on Nov 23, 2015 at 2:36 pm

Poor baby, she just got a 15% raise, I really feel sorry for her. At one point in time many years ago, supposedly working for a government entity meant the salaries would be close to private industry. The advantage was more stability. Now it's totally reversed. The government employees make more money, have more stability and have a pension out of this world. And guess what, everyone seems to be worried about paying a halfway living wage of $15 an hour, which hardly pays the rent in today's economy.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Kluget
a resident of Danville
on Nov 24, 2015 at 8:32 am

The posters who think that this pay scale is high compared to the private sector are living in la-la land.

If you want to argue that C level pay scales are too high across the board, you might have a point. But the pay differential between the top and the bottom in all enterprises - particularly in the private sector - has been growing for 40 years. Expecting the public sector to be exempt from that is naive.

And Del - as to that differential, you're simply wrong. Numerous studies have confirmed that public sector pay in comparable jobs is lower than private sector pay; adding in benefits lessens the gap but does not completely close it.

Like this comment
Posted by Gary
a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 24, 2015 at 5:23 pm

Gary is a registered user.

Interesting that cost of living raises were considered necessary. The government has concluded that there is no cost of living increase and, therefore, so raise for those receiving social security.

5 people like this
Posted by Long term resident
a resident of Danville
on Nov 25, 2015 at 7:04 am

There is really no mention of any extraordinary work or accomplishments that warrant this raise other than being in the job and showing up for work. That's the problem with many government and public agency jobs. They are all about years of service and little or no consideration is given to accomplishments. They must assume if one has survived and done nothing wrong, they deserve a raise. That's the biggest difference between government jobs and private enterprise jobs.

We are all trying to conserve water during the drought and paying premiums on our water bills. Rather than using the money to increase salaries, have they considered infrastructure improvements to help increase our water supplies? I guess that's asking too much.

Like this comment
Posted by NO col
a resident of another community
on Nov 25, 2015 at 11:14 pm

There is NO col increase for social security this year... because the was no col increase according to the government. gary had a typeo...I often do as well.

2 people like this
Posted by Ratepayer
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2015 at 12:24 am

I wonder why there isn't a way to comment on both Pleasanton & Danville at the same time on common topics. Is there a way?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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