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Board of Supervisors, Sheriff and DA get pay hikes after vote

The Board of Supervisors approved a double-digit pay raise for its members and five other Riverside County elected officials, City News Service confirmed, despite public criticism and lack of support from two board members.

Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, the most senior member of the board, voted against the salary increases, while Supervisor Karen Spiegel abstained from voting. Board Chairman Chuck Washington, along with Supervisors Yxstian Gutierrez and Manuel Perez, voted in favor. 

The board meeting on Tuesday morning counted as the second and final hearing on two ordinances that would revise the pay scales.

Jeffries was the singular voter against pay hikes when they were introduced last month. According to reports, he has "consistently refused" pay raises for himself, which makes him the lowest-paid on the Board.

"I can understand pay raises for our employees, when we can afford it,'' Jeffries said. "I can even understand pay raises for elected officials when reasonable. Everybody has been hit hard by inflation.
But these raises are too much, too fast. This is not the path you want to take going forward. I came into office accepting that I would be serving the public."

The initial votes by the board regarding the modified salaries -- except Jeffries -- will see a 19% pay increase for the members' salaries from $190,783 to $226, 359, according to City News Service. Jeffries' base salary will remain the same at $143,031.

City News Service also reported District Attorney Mike Hestrin's salary will go from $273,463 to $351,481, a 28% hike; Sheriff Chad Bianco's salary will go from $273,463 to $347,771, a 27% jump; and Assessor-Clerk-Recorder Peter Aldana's annual pay will go from $195,191 to $247,859, a 27% raise. The latter adjustment will also be granted, at the same amount, to Auditor-Controller Ben Benoit and Treasurer-Tax Collector Matthew Jennings.

Hestrin received a salary bump in 2018, while the other four elected officials named have not received hikes since 2014, according to county CEO Jeff Van Wagenen, whose annual compensation package totals $362,679, according to public records.

"The formula for the board members' pay is benchmarked to Superior Court
judges' annual compensation, with supervisors supposed to receive a minimum of
80% of what judges earn," stated City News Service.

Board Chairman Chuck Washington admitted it was "awkward" to vote a pay hike. "But I think it's reasonable to make sure elected officials are not being punished because we're afraid to make tough political decisions," he said.

The Executive Office's market analyses indicated that, among the supervisors, Riverside County's pay rates are on the same levels as the neighboring Orange and San Bernardino counties, but remains lower than Los Angeles and San Diego counties.

If the pay hike is approved Tuesday, the supervisors' salary hikes would take effect in 60 days, City News Service claimed, while other officials' would take effect in 30 days. This places the increase collectively within the 2024-2025 fiscal year, at a reported total cost of $812,501.

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Holly Hinman


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