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Supervisors vote to reject pay raise

With a unanimous vote, Madera County supervisors abandoned an ordinance at their regular board meeting this week that would have effectively raised their pay by 25 percent.

Board chairman Rick Farinelli said Tuesday he had hoped that raising county supervisor pay would push voters to “pay attention” to work he and his fellow supervisors do rather than whether they kiss babies and go to meetings. “My problem is that I work so hard with the (Department of) Social Services. I work so hard with Behavioral Health (Services). I work so hard (yet) it’s unnoticeable,” said Farinelli, who apologized for seeking the salary adjustment.

“This is not my career. What I do here is my service, and I am a contractor-engineer. That’s what I do for a living,” said Supervisor David Rogers. “This position does not exist to provide me with an income, but rather it exists to provide people with representation. That’s what I try to do.”

Supervisor Tom Wheeler took issue with Rogers’ comment. “This job is a full-time job, that is my whole purpose to even supporting this because this is a full-time job. You might not do it full-time. That’s fine,” he said, causing Rogers to insist he was a full-time supervisor.

Wheeler continued, “But we need people here that can afford to, that don’t have to take a second job to do that. That way we have the right people up here instead of just people that’s going to do a part-time half-ass job and that’s not what I’ve ever done.”

“I still feel that the salary increases are warranted, but I can accept this. I represent the east side,” said Supervisor Max Rodriguez. “The east side is very economically distressed, and I try to work as hard as I can to improve the lot over there by pushing projects that produce jobs. As everybody on this board realizes, my nickname is ‘Jobs Jobs Jobs’ and that’s what I work for.”

Farinelli teasingly interjected “except last night” — a reference to a vote by Rodriguez against Austin Quarry, which won approval Monday night. Rodriguez agreed.

“If people feel we shouldn’t get that raise, so be it. So be it. I can live with it and I’m not unhappy,” Rodriguez later concluded.

“This job does take a ton of work,” acknowledged Supervisor Brett Frazier. “It takes a lot of time away from family and friends. But this job as it sits now pays well. There’s times we talked about this would bring other people who would do it. Well, the right people are gonna come. The right people have come.”

Wheeler and Frazier also agreed they did not want to raise supervisor pay at the risk of voters rejecting a proposed public safety sales tax in the future.

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