Supervisors to vote on pay raise today |

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Supervisors to vote on pay raise today

Nevada County’s top elected officials are expected to make a final decision today about whether they should be paid more for doing their jobs.

At least one county supervisor – Robin Sutherland – plans to vote “no” on the proposed increase that will raise each board member’s annual salary to $38,958, with the chairperson’s salary a bit higher at $40,907.

Two others – Chairman Ted Owens and Supervisor John Spencer – both said Monday that they supported the raise.

“I am going to vote ‘yes’ because I think that the Board of Supervisors’ pay range is probably a little on the low side, compared to other counties and other elected jobs,” Spencer said. Supervisors Sue Horne and Nate Beason could not be reached for comment Monday.

Currently, a board member makes $37,186, with the board chair bringing in $39,046

Nevada County’s supervisor salary is low when you compare it with the state average of $51,628, according to a 2001 salary survey done by California Institute for County Government. It is also low when compared to the county’s median household income, which is $45,864, according to the U.S. Census reports.

It is high, however, when you put the wage next to the average salary made by other rural supervisors – $29,288. The average urban county supervisor made $88,916 in 2001, according to the survey.

But for Owens, the pay raise is simply a matter of ensuring that they are getting adequately compensated for the work they do – while also enabling people of all backgrounds to run for elected offices and simultaneously take care of their families.

“You want somehow to be able to have representation across the board as much as possible – seniors, young people,” he said, adding, “there are a lot of good people out there who might want to run for public office, but cannot afford to do it.”

He said he has been fortunate because he and his father have co-owned a contractor business for the past 16 years and he has the ability to have a more flexible schedule. After he was elected to office, they had to hire another person to take on some of Owens’ responsibilities, he said. Many supervisors spend anywhere between 30 and 60 hours on job-related activities, making it hard to have another job.

Whether the proposed increase is enough, however, is tough to know.

“I know it is a sensitive issue and so I think (the raise) is OK for now,” Spencer said.

For Nevada County, this would be the first salary increase for the part-time supervisor job in three years. A nine-year-old county ordinance requires that supervisors vote on the issue each year, a point that Owens said he feels is often misunderstood by the public – some of whom think that the idea of an increase originates with the supervisors.

Other counties have different systems for determining wage increases for their elected officials. Placer County’s supervisor salary is capped at $30,000 a year, with any change being up to voters.

In Yuba County, increases are made in conjunction with and at the same rate as the superior court judges, said Yuba County Clerk of the Board Donna Stottlemeyer. Twenty-two other counties in the state also use this method, according to the 2001 supervisor salary survey.

Unless there is a change in county law, this board will be faced with making the decision again at this time next year.

By the numbers

Current annual salaries for supervisors in area counties:

• Nevada County: $37,186, board chair – $39,046

• Placer County: $30,000

• Sierra County: $22,991, board chair $24,143

• El Dorado County: $55,390

• Yuba County: $22,440

• California average (2001): $51,628

Sources: County offices, California Institute for County Government at

Know and go

WHAT: Nevada County Board of Supervisors decide on whether to give its members a pay raise

WHEN: 11 a.m. today

WHERE: Rood Administrative Center, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City


To contact staff writer Brittany Retherford, e-mail or call 477-4247.