Countering the County’s ‘Salary Arms Race’

Two county supervisors today will target what they call a "salary arms race" in recent years among the county's highest-paid executives.

The first issue arose in May after county Performance Auditor Steve Danley unveiled a scathing audit revealing laxity in the county's Human Resources Department that allowed top executives to receive hefty pay raises with little documentation or justification.

The audit showed how executives were able to use the reclassification process to essentially grant themselves raises on a regular basis. Several executives were given raises of more thanf 30 percent. In some cases, the raises were granted while services and rank-and-file jobs were being cut.

CEO Tom Mauk issued an aggressive, point-by-point rebuttal of Danley's audit, and Danley countered by saying many of the CEO's arguments amounted to spin.

Today Supevisors Pat Bates and Shawn Nelson are expected to side with Danley and argue that the Board of Supervisors should freeze the positions of many top county executives while they justify their recent salary hikes.

The two have spent months on a plan to fix the problems listed in the auditor's report.

"Without question, we felt the performance audit was on point," Bates said. "The source documents do not support the decisions that were made."

Whether the executives — who include the top echelons of county government staff — can justify their pay hikes in recent years is questionable, Bates said. "It's going to be difficult."

In some cases, Bates and Nelson are suggesting that some perks be withdrawn immediately, including the 40 hours of annual leave that was granted to Deputy CEO Alisa Drakodaidis.

They also questioned multiple raises granted to top executives such as Deputy CEO Rob Richardson.

Both Nelson and Bates said that after several months of review, it is  still difficult to understand why the raises were handed out.

Both supervisors said that if they can arrange another vote on the issue, they would expect Mauk and staff to provide justification for all raises granted.

"We've got to have the ability to pick up the file a year from now and understand what happened," Nelson said.



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