Riverside Board of Supervisors - Photo courtesy of Rivco.org

The Board of Supervisors Tuesday will consider whether to grant double-digit percentage salary increases for five Riverside County elected officials, potentially making the sheriff and district attorney better paid than their counterparts in four neighboring counties.

According to the Department of Human Resources, the proposed pay hikes are intended to bring the officials’ salaries up to levels that ensure they’re not making less than some of their executive-level underlings, who are receiving hefty salaries thanks to collective bargaining agreements and other factors.

When the boss makes less than a subordinate, the disparity is known as “compaction” in government speak.

The pay raises, which would take effect on Jan. 12 if approved, are slated for incoming Auditor-Controller Ben Benoit, Assessor-Clerk-Recorder Peter Aldana, District Attorney Mike Hestrin, Sheriff Chad Bianco and Treasurer-Tax Collector Matt Jennings.

The last round of raises for all five positions was in 2014. However, Hestrin, individually, received a raise in 2018.

The 2014 hikes were approved on a 3-2 vote of the board, with then-Supervisor Jeff Stone joining with Supervisor Kevin Jeffries in opposing the increases, arguing that the effects of the Great Recession were an ongoing drag on the county’s finances, and there was no justification for boosting officials’ base pay.

Jeffries, who is now the most senior member of the board and slated to rotate into the chairman’s seat next year, has declined all proposed salary increases for himself in the last decade.

The salary hikes would increase annual base compensation for the assessor-clerk-recorder, auditor-controller and treasurer-tax collector by 32%, from $195,192 to $256,814.

The district attorney and sheriff would each receive a 13% hike, raising their annual base pay from $273,463 to $308,197.

The funds for all of the hikes would be drawn directly from each agency’s budget allocations for the current fiscal year.

The Department of Human Resources said “external market surveys” were conducted to gauge the appropriate compensation levels for the five elected officials going forward. Analogous surveys were undertaken in 2014, comparing the earnings of similarly placed officials elsewhere to justify pay increases for the Riverside County positions.

Salary schedules analyzed by City News Service showed that, if the increases are approved, both the sheriff and D.A. would receive annual base compensation that rivals the earnings of counterparts in surrounding counties.

Hestrin’s proposed $308,197 yearly salary would compare to $185,981 for Imperial County’s top prosecutor, $293,128 for Orange County’s, $249,221 for San Bernardino County’s and $287,227 for San Diego County’s.

Meantime, Bianco’s proposed $308,197 annual income would compare to $170,672 for Imperial County’s sheriff, $254,715 for Orange County’s, $270,291 for San Bernardino County’s, and $279,198 for San Diego’s top lawman.

Data on 2021 compensation formulas for government officials statewide is available at www.publicpay.ca.gov.

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