Overview

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors Tuesday voted against double-digit pay increases for elected officials.

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors Tuesday voted against increasing the base salary for the elected positions of assessor/county clerk/recorder, the county auditor-controller, the treasurer and tax collector, the district attorney and the sheriff/coroner/public administrator.

Supervisor Karen Spiegel initially pulled the item from the consent agenda because she was interested in continuing the item to January to gain more clarity in the process.

“I would like us to continue this item, to look at a process and document it,” she said. “We have nothing in writing, whereas we have with ours, our process is done. And yes, the elected official who signs up runs a campaign knows what the salary is, at that time. They also are under the understanding that usually gets increased.”

The proposal sought to raise the base salaries for Sheriff Chad Bianco and District Attorney Mike Hestrin from $273,463 to $308,197—a nearly 13% increase.

According to the latest state data from 2021, base salaries for sheriffs in surrounding counties range from a low of $170,672 in Imperial County to a high of $352,099 in Los Angeles County, with Orange, San Bernardino and San Diego counties all below $300,000. District attorney base salaries range from a low of $185,981 in Imperial County to a high of $366,524 in Los Angeles County with San Bernardino, San Diego and Orange counties all below $300,000.

The proposal also called for the base salaries of the assessor/county clerk/recorder, the county auditor-controller and the treasurer and tax collector to go from $195,192 to $256,814—an increase of more than 31%.

According to the staff report, the large increases were meant to “remedy existing salary compaction,” meaning there are regularly hired employees who make more than the elected officials who head the department, and “bring the pay up to market.”

Spiegel’s motion to continue the item to a future meeting ultimately failed, leading Supervisor Kevin Jeffries to make a motion against the adoption of the compensation ordinance.

“There’s nothing you’re gonna say that’s going to convince me that an elected official who knew what he or she was going to get when they came into office, without even asking for it publicly, deserves a pay raise. It’s not going to happen,” he said. “So the executive office, please spend all your time educating the rest of my colleagues as to why these poor elected officials are being starved to death at $190,000 a year or more, but don’t waste your time with me. It’s not going to happen.”

Jeffries’ motion passed 4-1, with Spiegel abstaining from the vote.

The last time all five positions received raises was in 2014, though Hestrin received a bump in his base salary in 2018. The proposed ordinance did not include supervisor salaries, which are tied to the salary of California Superior Court judges.

You can watch the full meeting here. Discussion about this ordinance starts at the 54-minute mark.

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Alicia Ramirez is the publisher of TN News and the founder and CEO of its parent company TN News.