Outrage over Mariposa supervisors’ $30,000 raise drives referendum campaign

One month after Mariposa Supervisors voted to give themselves a $30,000 pay raise, there is an active effort afoot from community members to reverse it.

Just one month after Mariposa County Supervisors voted to give themselves a $30,000 pay raise, there is an active effort afoot from community members to reverse it.

On Jan. 7, the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors voted to increase the supervisors’ annual salary. The board passed an ordinance which increased the base salary for the supervisors from 25 percent to 40 percent of the salary of a Mariposa County Superior Court judge’s salary, which is about $200,000.

That percentage change boosts the supervisors’ salaries from approximately $50,000 to around $80,000, not including benefits.

The ordinance passed 4-1. District 1 Supervisor Rosemarie Sallcombe, District 2 Supervisor Merlin Jones, District 4 Supervisor Kevin Cann and District 5 Supervisor Miles Menetrey voted in favor of the raise. District 3 Supervisor Marshall Long was the only member to vote against it.

Many community members are not happy with the board’s decision to grant itself a raise and are opposing it with a referendum.

Local Mariposa activists Robert Borchard and Barbara Cone, among others, started the referendum campaign to repeal the salary raise. The activists formed a group called Restore Mariposa, which is collecting signatures for the referendum.

The group has until March 7 to collect 824 signatures from registered voters, which amounts to 10 percent of the county’s population that voted in the 2018 gubernatorial election.

If the group manages to collect enough signatures, the Mariposa County registrar of voters will place a 30-day hold on the ordinance while it verifies the signatures. Once verified, the board has two options: repeal the ordinance or have a special election to let the voters decide.

According to Restore Mariposa’s website, the referendum has collected about 350 signatures with about one month remaining.

In a newsletter from Restore Mariposa, Cone details how the board determined the amount for the raise.

Mariposa County contracted Bryce Consulting to perform a salary comparison study with several other counties. In the newsletter, Cone said the study had multiple errors which should render it invalid.

“Mariposa County supervisors have unfortunately relied on a flawed compensation study as the basis to vote themselves a raise,” Cone said.

Cone argued that the consulting firm factored in multiple counties that are dissimilar to Mariposa County. The counties that she said are similar enough that Bryce Consulting compared are Glenn, Colusa and Plumas Counties. According to Transparent California – a public pay and pension database for California – the supervisors in those three counties all made less in total salary and benefits than Mariposa’s supervisors did before the raise.

Cone’s full analysis can be found here.

The next Mariposa County Board of Supervisors meeting is Feb. 11 at 9 a.m. 

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