EDITORIAL: County officials are wrong to restore own pay

July 1, 2013 

Fresno County employees have made great sacrifices during the recession and our region's delayed recovery. They have endured layoffs, pay cuts and furloughs.

Many of these employees continue to work for reduced wages. But, after taking voluntary pay cuts to show solidarity with rank-and-file employees, the county's 11 elected officials have gone back to receiving their full salaries, as was reported by The Bee's Kurtis Alexander in a June 23 story.

We believe these county leaders have made poor decisions and are sending the wrong message to county employees and taxpayers.

If the county can't afford to restore pay cuts to deputies patrolling our streets, then it hasn't completely cleared the financial hurdles that forced the cuts in the first place.

And if Sheriff Margaret Mims' budget isn't large enough to bring deputies' wages back to where they were before Wall Street collapsed and the housing market burst, then she has no business collecting her full $163,626 salary.

The same can be said for the Board of Supervisors. All five are receiving full pay of at least $107,000 -- even though the board, with Chairman Henry R. Perea in opposition, voted last month to extend a two-year salary cut averaging 9% on the county's largest union.

The shame of it is, the county's elected officials demonstrated leadership by voluntarily taking cuts during hard times. With everyone pitching in, the county was able to weather its biggest challenge since the Depression. Now, with prospects improving but the county budget still tight, the leaders want what's theirs and forget about everyone else.

The callousness of these decisions is mind-boggling when you consider the disparity between the six-figure salaries of elected officials -- many of whom have other jobs or additional sources of income -- and the pay of rank-and-file county employees. A 9% hit to someone making $40,000 a year can be the difference between keeping and losing a home.

We're not saying that the county's elected leaders don't work hard. Or that they are not entitled to compensation that reflects their hard work and responsibilities. But for them to accept full salaries and raises while other employees go without is out of bounds.

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