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6/14/19 Imperial Valley Press (El Centro, Cal.) (Pg. Unavail. Online)

2019 WLNR 18260329 Imperial Valley Press (El Centro, CA)

Copyright (c) 2019 Newsbank

June 14, 2019

Section: County

Supervisors' pay is among lowest in state


EL CENTRO - "Way underpaid" is how one Imperial County supervisor described his compensation when comparing it to what other California county supervisors make.

All five supervisors make almost $57,000 a year in base salary. They also receive health and life insurance, retirement benefits and an auto allowance, pushing the total to more than $5,000 a month or $60,000 a year.

Most people living in Imperial County, where the average per capita income is $18,521 and where 20.7 percent live below the poverty level, have a hard time understanding the $60,000 supervisor salary that is often a second job.

Only two of the five supervisors are retired.

At least one supervisor, though, thinks it's not enough when comparing it to others doing the same work in other communities.

Supervisor Ray Castillo, who is retired, said comparatively speaking Imperial County's board members' pay is among the lowest in the state.

Madera County in Central California, with about 150,000 residents, pay its five supervisors about $80,000 a year in base salary.

"We are way underpaid in comparison to other counties," Castillo said. "We have never given ourselves a raise that we did not give to the employees."

The Imperial County Board of Supervisors four years ago discussed increasing its pay from $4,471 a month to $4,697, now their monthly salary.

Supervisor Mike Kelley, who is retired, pulled the pay raise issue from the consent agenda back in 2015 for discussion.

Kelley said he has no complaints with the pay.

"We get compensated properly for what we do," he said. "For the county of Imperial, we are compensated properly. That's just the way it is."

The pay in other communities may be higher based on location, the size and supervisors deciding they just want to make more money, Kelley said.

"I don't do it for the pay," he said.

The supervisors decided to give all employees, including themselves, a 2.5 percent increase in pay back then.

For the next three years Castillo said the supervisors and other county employees will receive pay raises of 2.2 percent a year.

Castillo said he imagines there are people who don't understand the supervisor's pay, partly because what jobs in Imperial County pay.

The county's budget is more than $400 million, and in the private sector, the chief executive officer of a company overseeing a similar budget usually receives a very nice and attractive salary, he said.

However, Castillo said he does not think supervisors are in it for the pay.

Castillo said the supervisor's job is not an 8 a.m. to a 5 p.m. job.

For example, on Thursday Castillo traveled six hours to Southern Nevada for a mandatory conference.

"A lot of our work is attending county meetings after working hours," Castillo said. Imperial County Board Chairman Ryan Kelley could not be reached for comment.