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Napa County supervisors receive automatic 4.3% raise

From the Napa News Now: Check out the stories Napa County residents are talking about this week series

Napa County supervisors recently received what amounted an autopilot pay raise from $100,693 annually to $105,393.

As in many California counties, supervisors earn a percentage of Superior Court judge salaries. The 2005 version of the Board of Supervisors set this at 47.09%. The idea was to take decisions about giving themselves raises out of the hands of the hands of board members.

California recently gave the judges a 4.3% raise retroactive to July 1, so Napa County supervisors received a raise also. Supervisors did take a related vote on Sept. 14, but it was just a technical adjustment to the county employee table to reflect the increase.

A county report listed the vote as “mandatory.”

“If this resolution is not adopted, the county would be in violation of the county code, which mandates the increased compensation for members of the Board of Supervisors,” a county report said.

This marks the first raise for county supervisors since 2019 when the salary cracked triple digits.

Resident Jim Hinton was the lone member of the public to comment at the meeting. He wanted an opportunity for the public to discuss the pros and cons of a raise.

“Come on, let’s talk about it,” Hinton said. “Let’s put it on the agenda.”

Supervisor Belia Ramos later in the meeting said supervisors should discuss what is the right salary evaluation structure. Some counties have gone to a civil service review of salaries, she said.

“I just think it merits revisiting to make it reflective of this time, so we are not referring back to a 16-year-old ordinance,” she said.

Whether enough supervisors will agree with Ramos to take another look at the supervisor salary structure remains to be seen. The item is to come back as a “future agenda” item discussion — in effect, supervisors must decide if this is worth their time and the time of staff to pursue.

"I do see the efficiency realized by utilizing the judges' salaries to set compensation for the board," Ramos said on Monday. "That said, a 16-year-old ordinance is worthy of review for relevance."

When determining whether supervisors earn an appropriate salary, it's important to look at comparable counties such as Contra Costa, Marin, Solano, Sonoma and Santa Cruz, Ramos said. Salary surveys should inform the Board's compensation discussion, she added.

Contra Costa County supervisors make 65% of a judge’s salary or about $145,000 annually.  Sonoma County supervisors earn about $160,000 annually. Marin County supervisors earn about $128,000 annually, according to those counties.

Looking to the Central Valley, Yolo County supervisors earn about $75,000 annually. Sacramento County supervisors earn about $118,000 annually.

Those are only base salaries and might not include raises this year. Also, various factors can push overall compensation higher.

For example, Napa County supervisors in 2020 had a cell phone allowance of $3,420 and a car allowance of $5,280. Various medical, pension and other benefits varied per supervisor, but were in the $39,000 to $48,000 range, according to the county.

Napa County supervisors are far from the top wage earners in Napa County government. According to Transparent California, in 2019 County Executive Officer Minh Tran had a base salary of $290,016. Among elected officials, District Attorney Allison Haley and then-Sheriff John Robertson both made $239,184.

More than 340 county employees had higher base salaries than county supervisors. The county has about 1,500 employees.

The median household income in Napa County as of 2019 was $88,596, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This was before the pandemic.

County supervisors are elected officials who oversee a taxpayers-funded operation of a half-billion dollars annually. They make decisions that help shape wine country growth. They oversee social services, health services and a range of other services.

The members of the five-person Board of Supervisors are Ramos, Diane Dillon, Ryan Gregory, Alfredo Pedroza and Brad Wagenknecht.

NVC's existing student food bank will widen its scope to assist students with food and housing insecurity in seeking other types of aid.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.

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