Saturday, April 5, 2008

Fiscal Conservative John Silva?? Facts from the past speak for themselves!

January 24, 1997
Contra Costa Times Editorial -- regretting their endorsement of John Silva...

Solano supe’s costly raise

Compared with others they are not underpaid

[Reprint of January 1997 editorial from CCTimes]
Solano County Supervisors did something last week [January 1997] we probably all wish we could do. They gave themselves a 41 percent raise. On a 3-2 vote, supervisors raised their salaries more than $14,000 – from $34,932 to $49, 399.

Supervisors contend they are underpaid when compared to supervisors in other Northern California counties, specifically Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Cruz, Sonoma, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Stanislaus.

This raise is outrageous. First, they aren’t comparing apples to apples. Solano is smaller, more rural and the cost of living is less compared to Contra Costa, for example. Check these numbers. Solano: 2,500 employees, population 375,000. Contra Costa: 6,800 employees, population 868,600, supervisor’s pay $50,328.

Although Alameda wasn’t used in Solano’s comparison, here’s how it’s numbers compare
: 10,000 employees, 1.3 million people, supervisor’s pay $63,000.

Besides having fewer people to manage and a smaller population to serve, it cost less to live in Solano than Contra Costa and most of Alameda. And it’s far less than Marin.

Disappointingly, newly elected Supervisor John Silva of Benicia voted for the raise. Silva won the Times endorsement when he told our editorial board before last spring’s primary that he would consider hiring freezes, early retirements and even reducing supervisors’ pay to meet budget demands. Silva’s vote on this issue makes The Times regret its endorsement of him.

Besides embarrassing themselves, the supervisors have opened the floodgates. The county’s largest employee union says it wants equal treatment when its contracts expire in October. They make a good point. Supervisors can hardly claim to be fiscal conservatives now.

If supervisors truly believe they are underpaid – which they aren’t – at least they should have approved the raise incrementally. Supervisors were wrong to give themselves this raise. They should rescind the action and apologize to county taxpayers.