Tulare County Board of Supervisor Chairperson Amy Shuklian—together with the other four supervisors— Tuesday voted herself a 3 percent raise despite a campaign promise not to.
In an April 7, 2016 Valley Voice article, and during recorded campaign forums, Shuklian said she didn’t think elected officials should vote on their own raises. She also said that supervisors, at a $100,000 salary, received a lot of money.
Shuklian questioned the accuracy of the campaign statement adding that what is quoted in Valley Voice is not always correct.
And supervisors not only voted unanimously to raise their salaries — which neighboring Kings County supervisors didn’t do — they also agreed to spend $5.2 million remodeling their offices.
Since Shuklian has been on the board, she said she has opposed measures to pay supervisors cost of living increases plus an increase equal to a percentage of the raises that the district attorney, sheriff, tax collector and assessor get. In the past the percentage has amounted to ¼ of one percent.
She also said she voted against supervisors getting an extra $1,500 for continuity pay that employees received for maintaining operations during Covid.
Looking forward she said she would like to see supervisors only get an automatic raise tied to the amount of the increase in the consumer price index.
Supervisors, said Shuklian, were able to give rank and file employees a 3 percent raise because the county is doing relatively well financially. General fund revenues are up five percent principally due to more money from motor vehicle sale tax, said Jason T. Britt, county administrative officer.
The cost of living increase for rank and file employees is justified, Shuklian said, because county employees have been working hard and they need the increase to keep up. The raises also maintain the workforce and keep the county competitive with other counties when it needs to recruit, she said.
She represents District 3 which covers most of Visalia. Prior to getting elected to the board, she was a Visalia City Council Member.
Because of the county’s relatively good financial performance Tulare has lifted a hiring freeze, said Britt.
Overall the county’s 2021-22 budget is $1.62 billion which represents a $165 million increase over the previous budget year, he said.
Other budget highlights include:
- the general fund budget, which is part of the overall $1.62 billion expenditure, is $949.5 million
- property tax revenues have declined
- the county’s strategic reserve has dipped by $2 million
- $45 million will be spent on a capital improvement project at Sequoia Field
Looking forward Britt sketched the challenges the county faces. There is the uncertainty in the duration and impact of Covid. He also cited rising costs in law enforcement and firefighting both in terms of staff and capital expenditures. The health and human services budget will continue to increase. Jail and mental health care are another rising expense. Water and wastewater rehabilitation and consolidation are challenging areas. And there are new financial and human resource systems to accommodate.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Kings County, supervisors did not vote themselves a raise this budget year, said Supervisor Joe Neves (District 1 Lemoore, Stratford). “There wasn’t discussion of voting ourselves a raise,” Neves said. He said the board’s policy was to take care of rank and file employees first.
General and supervisory employees got a 4 percent increase when the budget was approved on September 14, 2021, according to a spokesperson for the county administrator. Kings County’s budget is about a fifth the size of Tulare County’s.
Supervisors earn $79,116 annually in Kings and the board chairman gets $88,440, according to the county’s website.