By Lionel Emde
The Daily Post, a newspaper most Pacificans will never see, is doing yeoman's work reporting on what our county government officials merrily pay themselves.
In its February 20, 2013 edition, the Post reports: "(The) county's $200,000 Club surges (as) the number of San Mateo County employees earning more than $200,000 a year jumped 600% in (the past) 7 years despite the county's struggle to close annual budget deficits of up to $50 million. In 2005 the county's $200,000 Club had just 11 members. Now, 70 employees make more than $200,000 a year, and 1,361 of the county's 5,187 employees earn more than $100,000, according to payroll data obtained by the Post. The county doesn't anticipate a shortfall this year now that voters approved a half-cent sales tax increase in November, which is expected to bring in around $60 million a year for the county."
Of course, one shouldn't forget newly rehired county manager John Maltbie, who received a raise upon his rehiring to $300,000, which is actually less than he took home as interim county manager in the previous year:
"As interim manager for the year that began in November 2011, Mr. Maltbie made around $325,000 during the 12 months, if you include his retirement pay, according to calculations confirmed by supervisors Don Horsley and Dave Pine. He received $133,000 in retirement money, which he is entitled to draw from the county provided he worked as interim manager fewer than 960 hours per fiscal year. Because he began and is terminating his interim position around the middle of two fiscal years, 2011-12 and 2012-13, he met the 960-hour requirement for both years and earned $192,000 at $100 an hour during the 12 months. As permanent manager, Mr. Maltbie was paid $270,000 but regularly made around $342,000, Mr. Horsley told the Almanac. How? By exercising a privilege granted to the county manager and the county counsel: they receive nine weeks of vacation per year (another singular privilege) and they can cash in unused vacation and raise their salaries while retaining their jobs." (The Almanac, December 19, 2012)
In the context of the November 2012 general election, we were told how vital it was for Measure A to pass in San Mateo County to "preserve county services."
The half-cent sales tax increase passed handily, and it would appear that things like county supervisors' salaries are safe from possible cutbacks. The total county payroll in 2012, according to the Post, "was $446.5 million—up a half million from the year before." To put that in context, the adopted general fund for the fiscal year 2011-12 was $1.16 billion.
The Post, in a separate story in the same edition, notes that "Supervisor's salaries climb 43% in 6 years." The story notes that the rate of increase has been nearly three times the rate of inflation, in spite of the five supervisors rejecting a 5 percent raise in 2009.
"In 2006, supervisors made $93,792 in total pay. But last year, four of San Mateo County's five county supervisors received $133,915 in total pay, according to newly released payroll data," the story says.
The story also gives further info on the royal packages granted to supervisors: "…supervisors also receive a pension and some of the best medical and dental benefits money can buy. These benefits are paid in full by the county. Supervisors don't even have a copay for doctor visits."
Supervisors also have chiefs of staff who are paid handsomely. Supervisor Carole Groom's chief of staff Juda Tolmasoff was paid $117,198, and supervisor Don Horsley's COS Chris Hunter made $110,000 in 2012.
The Post reports that Supervisor Horsley received $27,258 last year after he "reneged on a 2010 campaign pledge to forgo his annual salary while he was receiving his $215,000-a-year county pension, an act referred to as 'double-dipping.'"
"Horsley began collecting a paycheck six weeks before he announced on December 26, 2012, that he would start double-dipping. Under fire, he quickly reversed course, announcing in early January that he had changed his mind once again," the Post story says.
San Mateo County voters can look forward to more self-serving platitudes such as were offered in the last election. The question is: Will they have enough data to make an informed decision? The Daily Post is to be commended for going after the story that informs the public in that regard.