On May 2, San Luis Obispo County supervisors Bruce Gibson, Dawn Ortiz-Legg, and Jimmy Paulding voted to discuss a new pay raise at their next meeting, while Debbie Arnold and John Peschong dissented.
“I’m supporting this because it's about the future. I'm supporting this because it's about increasing the competition. I'm up for reelection in 2024. Two other seats are up for reelection. This should be a competitive race and not just for people that are wealthy enough to do the job," Ortiz-Legg told KSBY.
The new pay structureis modeled after a system used by other counties in the state.
“Six counties that we typically survey tie board compensation to superior court judge," said Tammi D. Douglas-Schatz, San Luis Obispo County Human Resources Director.
“By tying our salary to a judge’s salary, it’s now out of our hands. So long term, that’s what this is about," Ortiz-Legg added.
The raise would occur over several years. Effective July 23, 2023, the supervisors' annual salary would increase from $90,417.60 to $97,697.60. On June 23, 2024, it would go up to $105,560.00. And it would increase to $114,067.20 on June 22, 2025.
“This is actually a pretty modest impact on the budget. So there are only five board members and it's an increase of 8% a year for three years to get them to the median and that costs $180,000," Douglas-Schatz explained.
After that, the County Board of Supervisors would not get a raise again until California Superior Court judges get a raise.
“I have to pay a mortgage and the cost of living has gone up. The ability to do my job, which is a seven-day-a-week, very demanding job, you know, I need to be able to pay the bills," Ortiz-Legg said.
During public comment at the meeting on May 2, a Los Osos resident urged the supervisors to reconsider the raise.
“Supervisors are elected and they know what they're getting for a salary when they come in," she said. "I just wish you would reconsider that you need to take a raise. The economy is very scary for those of us who got a 1% increase in our Social Security. It just doesn't seem right that this is a time that you should be considering."
In a statement to KSBY, Supervisor Jimmy Paulding said regardless of how the board votes on Tuesday, he will not accept the pay raise and said, “The board of supervisors is tasked with making the most important decisions in our county, yet the average county employee currently makes $8,000 more per year than the supervisors do. The only reason this is before us is to ensure that this position pays a living wage for this area so that we can continue to attract the most qualified individuals to serve our community.”
“There's pieces to this that people don't like, and I understand that, but we're trying to be very thoughtful and, again, taking a very moderate approach,” Ortiz-Legg added.
The last time the Board of Supervisors received a raise was in 2021.
The board will consider the compensation change at the next Board of Supervisors meeting on May 16. It needs three votes to pass.