Top officials wait on raises

SAN JOSE
– Despite the prospects of a looming financial crisis, Santa
Clara County supervisors unanimously approved pay increases for
some county department heads Tuesday, but delayed a decision on
whether to provide increased compensation for three top elected
officials.
SAN JOSE – Despite the prospects of a looming financial crisis, Santa Clara County supervisors unanimously approved pay increases for some county department heads Tuesday, but delayed a decision on whether to provide increased compensation for three top elected officials.

Among the raises granted under the new salary plan approved Tuesday, County Counsel Ann Ravel and Public Defender Jose Villareal will receive roughly 15 percent salary increases. Clerk of the Board Phyllis Perez will nab an 11.6 percent increase.

Sheriff Laurie Smith, District Attorney George Kennedy and Assessor Larry Stone were also slated to receive raises up to 7.5 percent as well as a new benefits package that would grant payments of between $20,000 and $30,000 in lieu of paid vacation time, which they currently don’t receive. But supervisors delayed a decision on that part of the package until at least next week’s meeting so they can consider it further.

District 1 County Supervisor Don Gage said Wednesday he has not come to a decision on the raises for elected officials. He wants to do more research on the matter – such as looking at the pay differential between top managers and their subordinates – before making a call.

Keeping a degree of separation between manager and staff salaries is important, Gage said. He also noted it’s important to consider other factors, such as the cost of living here and details around similar positions and levels of responsibility in other municipalities. Santa Clara County is the fourth largest county in the state.

“We have to look at all of these factors,” he said. “If you pay (an official) at the bottom of the list, the problem is you don’t get quality people and a quality job …”

Many rank-and-file county employees recently received raises of 6 percent.

The increases come at a time when the county faces tens of millions of dollars in potential service and program cuts from the sluggish economy and the state’s massive deficit.

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