CAO gets new contract; dept. heads’ salaries adjusted

By November 08, 2017

The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors approved two items Tuesday that will impact county leaders’ paychecks.

Supervisors unanimously OK’d a four-year-deal with Chief Administrative Officer Don Ashton. Per the agreement Ashton’s salary of $214,926 will increase to $227,676 on Jan. 1, 2018, and go up again “to the median of the top administrative officer for the nine comparator agencies used by the final version of the Koff & Associates 2017 El Dorado County Compensation Study” on Jan. 1, 2021.

“In consideration of the foregoing and the other compensation and benefits provided under this agreement, CAO hereby waives and releases any vested rights to receive longevity pay pursuant to the Salary & Benefits Resolution for Unrepresented Employees in the future, and CAO shall not receive any such longevity pay during the term of his employment with the county,” the agreement notes.

The contract also states Ashton must give the county 30 days notice should he want to leave the county. Several supervisors said they hoped that would not happen and District 2 Supervisors Shiva Frentzen took it one step further, asking if there was a way the board could lock in Ashton for the full four years.

“It’s not a secret that we’re all happy with the performance of our CAO,” she said.

County Counsel Mike Ciccozzi told the supervisors they could not “bond someone to stay” but they did approve additional language in the contract that states that Ashton has the “intent” to continue as the CAO for the life of the agreement.

On another unanimous vote, the board took the first step toward adjusting department heads’ and unrepresented managements’ salaries. Changes move the county toward the goal of making salaries more competitive with comparable agencies, which helps retain staff, Ashton said.

This results in salary range increases for appointed department heads effective Jan. 1, 2018.

These salary resolution notes:

  • Whereas, appointed department heads currently receive, in pay period one, 96 hours of management leave that can be cashed out; and
  • Whereas, on Sept. 26 the Board of Supervisors approved increasing the base pay of appointed department heads by 4.6 percent in lieu of the option to cash out management leave; and
  • Whereas, on Sept. 26 in addition to the 4.6 percent increase, the Board of Supervisors approved an equity increase (ranging from 1.27 percent to 9.16 percent) for five appointed department head classifications … to bring their salaries to 10 percent below the median of the 2017 compensation study comparator agencies.

New salaries for elected department heads go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019; however, Ashton cautioned, looking only at base pay increases can be deceptive in this category.

On Sept. 26 the Board of Supervisors “eliminated most differential and special pays for elected department heads, and converting the existing differential and special pays into each elected department head’s base salary to bring the salaries closer to the median of the 2017 compensation study comparator agencies,” states the elected department heads’ salaries resolution. So while the base rate goes up the loss of differential pay means the elected officials’ checks will be lower than what they currently receive. This is true for the auditor-controller, assessor, treasurer-tax collector and surveyor, according to Ashton.

The board can decide at a later date, after the 2018 election, if they would like to increase elected officials’ pay so those who are re-elected don’t take a big financial hit. District 2 Supervisor Shiva Frentzen said she opposed such a move, calling the idea “political.”

The CAO also noted that these changes are only one step in a series of many needed to fix the salary ranges for all county employees. “If we stop here we’re failing the county,” Ashton said.

Noel Stack

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