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In a situation some members of the Kings County Board of Supervisors called “uncomfortable,” the board voted to increase salary compensation for themselves and future board members.

At the board’s meeting Tuesday morning, members discussed a number of salary increase options presented to them by County Administrative Officer Larry Spikes and voted in favor of a nearly $1,000 a month salary increase.

Adjustments to the salaries of the board members have been relatively few and far between over the last three decades. Spikes said salaries have been modified in 1991, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2014.

Spikes said in August 2016, the board gave county staff direction to hold off on discussing salaries until a salary study was completed.

A salary study was completed in the spring that gathered information from several local counties and other counties with similar demographics to Kings County.

Spikes said board members currently have a base annual salary of $64,009 ($5,334 a month).

Based on the survey, Spikes told the board one option for them was setting the base salary for a board member at $76,092 a year ($6,341 a month), with an additional $777 per month for the chairman of the board. This number was the median of salaries from the other counties in the survey.

Spikes also said some Valley counties base their board member salaries as a percentage of Superior Court judge salaries, which was another option for them. A third option was establishing a citizen’s committee for board compensation.

Dave Robinson, Kings County Sheriff, came forward and told council he’s in support of the salary increase to the median number so that everyone in the county would be on par. He also said he would support setting up a committee in the future to make sure the board never falls behind the rest of the county.

Supervisor Richard Valle said, historically, board members have not been comfortable with voting for their own salary increases and called it a “no-win situation.”

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Valle said being a supervisor is a full time job, and he supported starting a committee or tying it to the Superior Court judges in order to take the salary responsibility off the hands of the supervisors themselves.

“As much as I clearly support the board’s effort with an increase in salary, what stops me from hitting the green button on this ordinance is that it is uncomfortable,” Valle said. “It is very uncomfortable to do that, so I’m glad that we have these options here.”

Chairman Craig Pedersen echoed Valle’s thoughts about the uncomfortable situation and said he was in favor of a committee or basing their salaries on a percentage of Superior Court judges, as well.

Supervisor Doug Verboon said while the situation is uncomfortable, he thinks it’s important for the board to stay consistent with other county employees. He said it wasn’t fair to staff or future board members to hold back based on personal feelings.

“If you don’t stay consistent, then one day you’re behind and then you make a motion to get caught up and you look like you’re giving yourself a big ol’ raise,” Verboon said.

Verboon made a motion for the board salaries to increase to the median amount suggested in the salary survey, with the stipulation that it not become effective until the first pay period in July of 2018, when the 2018-2019 fiscal year begins.

The vote narrowly passed 3-2, with Supervisors Verboon, Pedersen and Joe Neves in favor and Supervisors Valle and Richard Fagundes not in favor.

Voting in favor of this ordinance does not mean board members have to take the salary increase; Verboon said board members can opt out of a salary increase, if they so choose.

“We can go into [the finance department] and say ‘leave my salary as is,’” Verboon told Valle. “That’s what I did last time.”

The salary compensation increase will cost the county approximately an additional $60,000 a year.

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2423 or jzavala@hanfordsentinel.com

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