With a big budget shortfall next year, Inyo County government’s continued actions to raise employee pay has mystified some members of the public who have contacted our newsroom. The action at Tuesday’s Inyo Board meeting sets a new policy to review elected officials salaries every four years with no guarantee that they will go up. That review will happen now in two weeks. The Supervisors’ pay is not being considered.
Several weeks ago, Assessor Tom Lanshaw came to the Board to say he had not received a raise in some ten years and requested one. They gave it to him, but then wanted to review how they handle elected officials’ salaries. There has been no automatic review of those wages, and some officials have waited a long time. So, the Board considered an automatic review period of every four years before elections.
Administrator Kevin Carunchio offered the Supervisors that policy option. He also offered what’s called term pay. In other words, an elected official gets a raise for every new term of election, in addition to longevity pay.
Treasurer Alicia McMurtrie said elected officials had been meeting about this issue. She said she and the Sheriff had met with the County Administrator. McMurtrie said, “We propose both longevity and term pay. We bring experience back from term to term.” County Clerk Kammi Foote disagreed. She said McMurtrie’s view did not represent all elected officials. Foote said, “You can’t place value on terms.” To the Board, she said, “Consider that term pay might send the wrong message to the public – that we pay elected officials more just because they are re-elected.” Sheriff Bill Lutze supported an automatic review of elected officials’ pay.
Supervisor Linda Arcularius said it’s the Supervisors’ responsibility to adopt a budget based on resources. She favored the automatic four-year review of salaries and no term pay. District Attorney Tom Hardy and others said it’s a matter of reviewing the salary of the position and not the person. Clerk Foote added that it’s good timing before an election to either reduce or increase salaries.
The Board preferred not to include their own salaries in the new policy but did vote unanimously for a four-year automatic review of elected officials’ pay in the year prior to an election. They did not vote for term pay. The salary review will come back for consideration on February 18th.