Sutter County slashes employee pay hikes |

Sutter County slashes employee pay hikes

Uncertainty about the economy and state finances helped stall most of a package of raises for several Sutter County workers.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday night cut out the bulk of a mix of pay increases and job reclassifications that would have added about $120,000 a year in salary and benefits.

A compromise to indirectly raise compensation for four county employees – all by reclassifying their job titles – for a total of $19,084 annually – passed 4-1, with Supervisor Larry Montna dissenting.

With more state budget cuts looming this spring – on top of the cutbacks California made last year to close a $24 billion shortfall – allowing other raises would be unwise and sends a bad message to residents, declared Supervisor James Gallagher.

“There’s a lot of people in the private sector who have no jobs at all or who are taking pay cuts,” he said before the vote. “(The raises) may be minimal, but government has to get it. How can I justify these to my constituents?”

The proposal by the county personnel department would have increased salaries for 16 employees across several divisions. The assistant auditor-controller’s position would have drawn the largest raise, from a range of $72,552-$88,968 per year to $84,624-$103,212.

Personnel Director Mary Lynn Carlton admitted the difficulty of supporting government raises in a recession, but argued the duties added to several jobs over the years merited salaries closer to those offered by neighboring Mid-Valley counties and cities.

Without the adjustments, she told supervisors, the county risks a slow drain of expertise as older workers move on.

“Eventually this economy will turn, and when it does, we’ll have a lot of baby boomers on the edge of retiring,” said Carlton. “They’re so sick of government-bashing that once the economy turns around, the first thing many of them will do is retire – and then our knowledge base will be in shambles.”

Supervisors could reconsider the remaining raises as early as May after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposes new state budget changes, according to Supervisor Jim Whiteaker.

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