By Jennifer Henion
Triplicate staff writer
Though most of the Del Norte County Supervisors approved of saving a spot in the budget to give re-elected officials a pay raise, the raises will not go into effect until the public has a chance to comment.
On Oct. 22, the board will consider an ordinance to change the pay schedule for themselves and future board members from one base rate to a schedule of raises dependent on whether a supervisor is re-elected for another term.
On that same day, the board will separately consider a similar step and column pay-raise schedule for all other elected officials.
"At this point it's only appropriated in the budget. The board will take a separate action to implement the schedule," said Del Norte County Chief Administrative Officer Jeannine Galatioto.
The county's final budget needed to be adopted by the board by Oct. 2, and because of previous board discussions about updating elected department head salaries, Galatioto made sure there was room in the budget before the deadline.
Following up on the details could come later, she said.
"We can always follow through with the next steps later, but I wanted to make sure the budget was done and balanced," she said.
And just because the raises have been budgeted doesn't mean the board must now approve their implementation. The budget can be changed as the fiscal year progresses, she said.
"You budget for things that don't happen and you don't budget for things that do happen sometimes, that's just the way it goes," said Galatioto.
The new step- and column-pay scale was proposed to bring elected officials salaries in line with the state average.
It is also an attempt to bring elected department head salaries in line with those of appointed department heads.
If the new system is adopted, each elected official would start out with a base pay for the entire length of their first term.
The base rate is what is currently being paid now to each of the officeholders.
If an officeholder is elected to a second term, he or she would get a 10 percent pay raise over the base rate.
For each new term up to four terms that an officeholder is re-elected that person would get a 10 percent pay raise.
If elected to a fifth consecutive term, the officeholder would get a 6 percent raise.
Officeholders who have already served several terms would get a pay raise corresponding to the scale for the number of terms served.
For instance, Christie Babich who will begin her third term as county auditor in January, would jump from a biweekly salary of $2,291 to $2,772, because she is currently being paid the base rate.
County assessor Gerry Cochran who begins his ninth term in office this January would jump from his current base rate of $2,312 biweekly pay to $3,262 biweekly pay.
Others who begin their first terms in office in January, including the county district attorney, sheriff, tax collector and supervisor of District Four, will start off at the base rate.
Cochran said the new pay scale is long overdue.
"They promised it to us in 98 then in 2000 and now finally we're getting parity with everyone else in the county," Cochran said, referring to appointed officials who have been receiving yearly raises for some time now.
If the board adopts the ordinances at their public meeting Oct. 22, the public will have 60 days to comment on the action and make efforts to have it reversed.