The Union – Michael Taylor: Is a total pay and benefits package of $430,800 sustainable pay in the public sector?The Union –

Nevada County is facing a challenging financial situation marked by declining revenue and escalating full-time staff costs. In my opinion, this situation demands urgent attention and effective solutions since the state and federal funding being received in Nevada County, which accounts for 47% of our budget, will inevitably and rapidly pull back when the next recession hits.

One of the most pressing concerns I’ve been highlighting throughout my campaign for the District 1 seat on the Nevada County Board of Supervisors is the excessive compensation increases granted to Nevada County Senior Staff members and elected officials. Over the past eight years, their total financial compensation packages have nearly doubled, which is incredibly alarming considering our county’s budgetary challenges.

As a candidate for District 1 Supervisor, I’m fully committed to advocating for fiscal responsibility and transparency in local governance. Prior to voting to approve any further salary or benefit increases for Nevada County Senior Staff once elected, I will request a full review of Senior Staff members’ total compensation packages to compare how they stack up against neighboring counties with comparable populations – and as you may have heard in the past, I’ve already started my own research here. My goal in doing this research is to ensure our county’s financial resources are being allocated responsibly.

Similarly alarming is the Board of Supervisors’ unanimous approval of their own 100% compensation increase on January 11, 2022. You can review Ordinance No. 2501, which grants open-ended compensation increases to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, on my website to learn more.

The Board’s unanimous vote of approval raises serious questions about their commitments to fiscal responsibility as well as their ability to uphold ethical governance. Supervisor Ed Scofield’s recent op-ed in The Union addressing the recent opinion pieces published challenging the Board’s oversight of the County’s budget and support of the high salaries of Senior Staff raises additional concerns. His decision to not specify or be transparent about what sources he’s using to check his facts is alarming, and based on the research I’ve done, I believe some of his fact checking is inaccurate. One thing he did make clear, which I agree with, is that it’s the responsibility of each Supervisor to oversee the County’s budget as well as the salaries of Nevada County’s Senior Staff.

Supervisor Scofield is quoted saying, “Among the Letters to the Editor of The Union, I read one letter asserting that there needs to be a citizens’ committee to review salaries. I’d like to say there is such a committee. It’s made up of five members — one from each supervisorial district – and it’s called the Nevada County Board of Supervisors.”

Supervisor Hall similarly justified the high salaries of County staff at the League of Women Voters (LWV) District 1 Candidate Forum, stating that drawing attention to these compensation figures is a “red herring” and noted that this topic is a “non-issue.”

If the current Supervisors feel the total pay and benefits being received by the Nevada County CEO of $430,800 in 2022 is an acceptable use of taxpayer dollars in the General Fund… then Nevada County needs change and fresh perspectives on the Board.

In my youth, I remember my parents encouraging me to consider working in the public sector for PG&E, NID, or at the County so that I could have a secure, living wage job with a guaranteed retirement package. What’s changed in the public sector that has allowed these jobs to become no longer just ones that will sustain a living wage, but ones that now guarantee a total pay and benefits package of almost half a million dollars per year? Is it sustainable that a single person employed by Nevada County can now make almost five times that of the average California household income?

I personally don’t think so, and if you agree, I recommend you make your voice heard at the polls. It’s time for change in Nevada County’s leadership, and your vote is pivotal in shaping the future of our county. In-person voting centers are open as of Saturday, February 24, and you can find your nearest local voting center here.

In addition to voting in this upcoming election, spreading the word about these important issues will make a big impact. Please share this op-ed with five neighbors, family members, or friends to help get this message out! Together we can make a difference.