Monday, April 21, 2014

Elected department heads’ pay chopped

From page A1 | November 22, 2013 | 27 Comments

What began as a panel of red-faced county supervisors a couple of weeks ago has turned into an all out rout of county ordinances and policies regarding elected official compensation. Monday, during a special board meeting, supervisors voted 3-1 to overhaul a number of special bonus programs that benefited elected department heads for longevity, special degrees or certifications and cash in-lieu of Management Leave time.

One of those policies dictated that if the other elected officials received pay increases, the Board of Supervisors did likewise. County Counsel Ed Knapp called the board’s attention to that edict as supervisors were pondering a 15 percent increase for elected department heads (and therefore themselves) on Nov. 5. Board Chairman Ron Briggs called that event “really embarrassing” and the “joy ride for some electeds is over,” during a phone conversation with the Mountain Democrat Tuesday.

Monday’s action included the “delinking of the Board of Supervisors from other raises,” according to Chief Administrative Office principal analyst Mike Applegarth.

During that earlier meeting, CAO Terri Daly had described a “very complicated” system that was rife with little-known resolutions and their dusty supporting documents that have been implemented by supervisors over many years. ”All electeds’ salaries are very appropriate,” she said at the time, “but the structure itself is not transparent.”

Effective with the new policy, the seven elected county department heads will see salary reductions ranging from slight to significant at the end of their current terms of office. Future officials will be paid, in effect, a simple base salary. Thus, should the same individuals be reelected to their current positions, they would be paid the same amount as a newly elected person who had no prior county service and no extra degrees or duties.

El Dorado County draws data from a set of seven “comparator” counties that are generally similar in size, population and make-up. The seven include Amador, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties. Sacramento represents the exception. Because of longstanding policies, several positions within El Dorado County are compensated much more generously than similar positions in comparator counties. The new policy will strike an average of all comparators and that will become the base salary for those local officials.

The board resolution based on a motion by Briggs eliminates longevity pay for elected department heads, a 10 percent bonus for CPA or other professional certification, and a 4.6 percent “pay in lieu of Management Leave.” The resolution continues:

“Direct the Human Resources Department to immediately amend the salary schedule to reflect the new compensation structure.

“Direct the Chief Administrative Officer to publish the new elected compensation structure on the county Website and at the Elections Department in advance of Nov. 27, 2013, so candidates filing for office beginning Dec. 27, 2013, are informed of the salary for each office.

“The new elected compensation structure does not affect the salary of those currently holding elected office through their current terms, and that all changes take effect when an individual is elected or reelected to a new term of office beginning in January 2015.”

At that time, the following new compensation rates will apply:

• District Attorney — $184,431

• Sheriff — $177,975

• Auditor-Controller — $148,693

• Treasurer-Tax Collector — $145,540

• Assessor — $144,007

• Recorder-Clerk — $135,575

• Surveyor — $118,238.

While no current, elected department head will see a pay cut through his or her current term of office, Briggs estimated that Sheriff John D’Agostini could expect a cut of up to $60,000 a year if he were to be reelected. Likewise Auditor-Controller Joe Harn would lose about $40,000 from his current annual paycheck. Exact figures were rounded out in the motion and resolution establishing the base salary as the only pay an elected department head will receive with few exceptions such as extra duty. At present, District Attorney Vern Pierson also serves as the interim director of the county’s Information Technology Department. Recorder-Clerk Bill Schultz does extra duty as the temporary head of Veterans Affairs.

Schultz receives a 5 percent stipend for his Veterans work, while Pierson is paid just under $95 per hour for his IT duties, according to the county Human Resources Office. The county is currently recruiting for both positions.

District 2 Supervisor Ray Nutting recused himself from the proceedings and voting Monday. Briggs, Supervisors Brian Veerkamp and Norma Santiago supported the actions. Supervisor Ron Mikulaco was the lone opponent. During the meeting Mikulaco expressed concern that  the change to the system could result in a situation wherein the assistant or deputy department head with many years of county service would make a higher salary than the elected department head. In response to a request for additional comment, Mikulaco e-mailed the following to the Mountain Democrat Wednesday:

“The board has advocated investing in our employees, which I have supported. In regards to this group of employees, realizing that elected department heads are, in fact, employees, my colleagues have decided to not just freeze these employees pay but cut salaries and strip away some benefits. This lacks continuity and fairness, in my opinion. It also creates an imbalance in regards to pay and position held over time that may create more problems. This is why I could not support this item because I believe in fairness and continuity regardless of the employee classification.”

Back before the issue first hit the board agenda on Nov. 5,  Harn sent the following to supervisors to coincide with the item:

“Chairman Briggs,” he wrote, “This e-mail confirms our recent conversation. The compensation for the position of Auditor-Controller should not be increased. I will not accept an increase in compensation should your board act on this matter on Nov. 5.”

Asked for comment on this week’s board action, Harn e-mailed the Mountain Democrat Wednesday afternoon.

“My county-approved pay rate was too high, that’s why I have been taking a voluntary pay cut since June 2012. I don’t have a problem with the board’s action to reduce my pay. That’s the board’s job … setting salary rates.”
Treasuer-Tax Collector Cherie Raffety commented indirectly on the impact of a future pay cut by confirming, via e-mail Thursday, that she intends to seek another term as the county’s Treasurer-Tax Collector. She has served in that office since 1985 and receives approximately 16 percent more pay according to current longevity policies. That benefit will cease with the next election.
Sheriff John D’Agostini could not be reached for comment.


Discussion | 27 comments

  • Foaming at the MouthNovember 21, 2013 - 4:03 pm


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  • pvl residentNovember 21, 2013 - 5:05 pm

    Vern Pierson is not the interim director of the county’s Information Technology Department. That position is currently held by CAO Analyst Kelly Webb. Vern was given the title Chief Technology Officer on 7/19/11. According to the BOS resolution: "In recognition of the additional responsibility and workload being taken on by Vern Pierson, Vern Pierson shall be entitled to and shall receive additional compensation to bring his base hourly rate to $94.69, an amount 10% less than the hourly pay rate of the position of Sheriff, effective the next full pay period following Board approval." You can read the full resolution with a description of his duties here:

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  • Lets get realJanuary 02, 2014 - 10:56 am

    Verne has no experience or expertise as a technology officer but in fact oversees the operational status. Kelly is the BOS in seat control but really has nothing going on there. The Asst Dir is the only person that has the correct background to run IT. Its a sham and a shame!

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  • Eileen P.November 21, 2013 - 5:26 pm

    Why didn't you put the salary of the Board of Supervisors. Why Chris why?

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  • pvl residentNovember 21, 2013 - 6:16 pm

    Salary Schedule for all county positions (hourly rate and monthly rate): Current number of positions allocated to each department:

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  • 1036-FrankNovember 22, 2013 - 8:20 am

    I have suggested a cap of department head salaries at 100k per year plus benefits and dialing back all other top staff salaries. I would call this first step refreshing and it shouldn't stop at this level. Over many years these secret department head raises and "bonuses" were abused to create huge increases, like almost happened here, and there were huge pay outs when a department head or "acting" or appointed department head retired when they banked all their time, these steps will help be more in line with the reality that when public employee and elected position salaries begin to exceed 200k per year, it is time for major reductions.

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  • pvl residentNovember 22, 2013 - 10:33 am

    Salary schedule: Personnel Allocations:

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  • pvl resNovember 22, 2013 - 12:24 pm

    If the County is recruiting for the Director of IT and the Director of Veteran Affairs, why aren't they listed under Employment Opportunities?

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  • EvelynNovember 22, 2013 - 12:34 pm

    Some questions are best left unasked!!!

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  • JimNovember 22, 2013 - 2:22 pm

    I'm certain the Interim Director of Veteran Affairs position has been given to a Judges Son and Supervisors nephew whos an outspoken member of the Republican Central Committee. A recently approved hunk of money for veterans services and programs that doesn’t have any services or programs attached to it was approved. I would guess the funds real use is for a holding position to qualify the nephew to replace Schultz when he retires next year. According to this article the county is currently recruiting for this positions which is true, if you call scrambling internally to make an interim position recruiting.

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  • sunshineNovember 23, 2013 - 8:10 am

    The grand standing by Auditor-Controller Joe Harn leaves a lot of distaste in my mouth. Joe Harn was instrumental in plotting a 48% wage increase for all elected officials when Dupray and Bauman were re-elected and thus termed out. Along with retiring supervisor Salero, the three guaranteed an up vote for this outrageous wage increase. Now, Harn is a " ME TOO" on this issue. His salary with all perks reached over $200,000, the third highest paid elected official in California, when this became common knowledge he decided to give back part of this salary. I'm assuming this is because he plans to run AGAIN for Auditor-Controller. His plotting at Durangos Bar, in Placerville,(which was his second office) along with the two supervisors ( Dupray and Bauman) as they drank the afternoons away, is beyond belief. This is the real person showing himself and showing what he really thinks of the residents and taxpayers of El Dorado County . Bravo to the three Supervisors, Briggs, Santiago, and Veerkamp, you are beginning to restore my faith in elected officials. There are still some good men and one woman out there.

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  • Lets get realJanuary 02, 2014 - 11:05 am

    Sunshine, you really know your facts! Kudos for bringing them out. Most employees know what's going on but the general public continue to be 'snowed' by Harn's crap for over 10 years!!

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  • R SmithNovember 23, 2013 - 8:14 am

    My my, what a heavy dose of hypocrisy we have here. With the Auditor/Controllers practiced ability to fervently scrutinize the contracts belonging to special districts, in search of tidbits to enhance his agenda, you would think in the name of the taxpayers he would have brought this to the BOS attention years ago. While this activity led to the postponement of firefighters paychecks and their job security, this self-righteous scrutiny did not extend to a taxpayers warning that an elected gravy-train was bearing down on them.

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 23, 2013 - 8:34 am

    "Briggs estimated that Sheriff John D’Agostini could expect a cut of up to $60,000 a year if he were to be reelected." Wasnt there many in this county that did not want our sheriff elected in the first place? I like this Sheriff...he seems straight forward. By cutting his pay...will he move on to another place? Something to think about. I think he and his dept. have done a great job so far. Interesting. I watch the people who didnt vote for him..hug him and shake his hands...I guess I have a different view of "friendship." Some feel that by hugging people you dont really like--means something...shrugging shoulders--watch at these meetings who hugs--who winks...who steps to the side. Thats interesting...a visual clue. The Game of Thrones...I mean politics. lolololol

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  • everything is knowableNovember 24, 2013 - 8:03 am

    Most astute comment on here.

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  • cjNovember 23, 2013 - 8:36 am

    Dear Ron Mikulaco, your reasoning for maintaining all those exorbitant salaries is a little unnerving. If there are managers making more than you all, you have the ability to rein that in. There also is negotiations in salaries with the respective bargaining units. Or, could it be your friend Joe Harn has been talking to you to stay the course. Stand-up Ron and do the right thing for the taxpayers. Using parity with other counties stinks. A commission elected by the people should make all contract and negotiations decisions. When Joe Harn makes the third largest salary in the state there is no parity. This is smoke and mirrors performance by CAO Teri Daley for the benefit of the taxpayer. We need to do some house cleaning.

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  • VernNovember 23, 2013 - 10:23 am

    It’s obvious you have no idea who’s trying to run the county show. Joe Harn is been the one source of common sense currently balancing Briggs off the wall absolute BS politics family first no mater what it cost the taxpayers philosophy. Read up a couple of posts for some insight from someone who is for certain on the inside.

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  • fed up residentNovember 23, 2013 - 10:38 am

    They are all guilty of pushing their special interests. That includes Harn. The only reason Briggs ran for office was to make sure the family property was developed. The CAO is running amok. We definitely need to clean house.

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  • JimNovember 23, 2013 - 2:52 pm

    I agree, but Harn isn’t in the same ballgame as the Briggs/Baileys. I would guess the Briggs/Baileys and the family trust look forward to a home-run when they complete the court house project, make a job for the Bailey kid and set Ron’s son up to be County Counsel or future judge. While Ron, who will probably not retire from public service next year pulls strings behind the scenes guided by former Senator Briggs his father? The perfect storm if you’re into politics and development. I would guess the first step to stop this avalanche is to deny the CAO the opportunity of creating a special job for Judge Bailey’s son, Briggs nephew. Bill Schultz County Election Officer will retire next year as acting Interim Director of Veterans Affairs, why interim nobody seems to know. The department has always had a Veterans Service Officer who in previous years ran the department like all of the other County Departments. Recently Ron Briggs appointed his nephew to the Veterans commission shortly after the BOS appointed Schultz as Interim Director. Is Baileys Commission position the first step as Schultz’s Republican replacement? A couple of questions need to be asked: (1.) if the County says it’s recruiting for this position and is not, WHY. (2.) has the position been promised to the judge’s son, Briggs nephew? (3.) Is the job recruitment being held back until Schultz retires next year and Briggs nephew gets more experience holding down an interim job created to give him County qualifying experience to be a shoe-in? The Veterans Service Office earns about $80, 000 annual salary and benefits; the director would earn more and need no qualifying document, sounds like a pretty good job to me. In addition, this job would be a perfect position to beat the Republican drum to veterans who supported Democrat Lt.Col. Charlie Brown who lost to McClintock in the last Congressional race by 1 ½ points which is one thing Briggs nephew would be compelled to do as vice chair of the EDC Republican Central Committee. This whole thing stinks, but is the reality of politics in El Dorado County. All that’s needed is a little sunshine on the issue Chris, start with the CAO……….

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  • JimBoNovember 23, 2013 - 3:43 pm

    BINGO! The only Reason that Ron Briggs ran for office was to ENRICH HIS FAMILY, get them all County jobs and develop his family's property for a Court House!

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  • Lets get realJanuary 02, 2014 - 11:16 am

    The only way to clean up the County operations is to get rid of Harn. The County operations has been dysfunctional for at least ten years because of Harn's behind the scenes manipulations and desire to control every aspect of its operations. He has his finger in everything! Your County need to vote him out and until then it will remain dysfunctional. Each employee as well each department head from Pierson to Schutlz knows this in their hearts. Some (Pierson) will join Harn (and become his political whores), some (Schultz) will ignore and simply stay out of his way.

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  • sunshineNovember 23, 2013 - 12:03 pm

    Vern have you really followed Harn all these years or are you just a friend trying to defend the un-defendable. Harn was instrumental in stopping the incorporation of El Dorado Hills. He has had tens of thousands of dollars from the Tskapolus family in campaign contributions. I'm sure this had something to do with trying to stop the incorporation. Harn has participated in the negotiations with West Lake LLC in El Dorado Hills, probably to the benefit of Angelo. I would say this is a conflict of interest. Harn has cost the county thousands to defend sexual harassment suits. Now what is this about "common sense"? Vern if your're on the inside I'm thinking DA. You haven't been around long enough. Go back a couple of decades and check out a complaint of Child Abuse on our famous Auditor- Controller. The archives should have the complaint issued and the results.

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  • Rosco_P_ColtrainNovember 23, 2013 - 3:04 pm

    Kin anknee whon say the werd..KEERUPTION?

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  • JimBoNovember 23, 2013 - 3:41 pm

    It's funny that until Chris Daley of the Mountain Democrat Blew the Whistle...they were all fine with the status quo including the CAO & Asst. CAO who have been on the job for several years now. When the County was having alleged budget problems less than two years ago, this was never looked at by our CAO's or the Board. Seems like they are only reacting now because they ARE BEING FORCED TO!

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 23, 2013 - 3:48 pm


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  • SunshineNovember 23, 2013 - 4:16 pm

    I stand corrected, West Valley, only one of Angelo's projects in El Dorado Hills.

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  • EldoradoNovember 25, 2013 - 10:13 am

    The title to this story is a bit misleading... (surprise, surprise). They didn't have their pay chopped, it is the newly elected who will have their pay chopped... Those at the trough keep theirs...

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