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Howard Will Forgo 5% Pay Raise : Finances: Supervisor puts decision in writing, citing layoffs. Her colleagues have indicated similar intentions.


Ventura County Supervisor Vicky Howard has sent a letter to the county auditor-controller refusing an automatic 5% pay raise board members are set to receive in January.

Howard said she cannot accept the $3,227 salary increase knowing the county is facing more layoffs and wage freezes.

"At a time when we are holding back raises for county employees, I just can't accept this," Howard said. "I thought it was time to put it in writing."

County Auditor-Controller Thomas O. Mahon said the remaining four supervisors have indicated to him verbally that they would not take the raise. However, Howard is the first to formalize her intentions, he said.

Mahon said he has prepared a form for the supervisors to fill out by the end of the year indicating whether or not they will take the increase.

Board members are scheduled to get the pay raise in January because their salaries have been tied to those of Superior Court judges, who have been granted a 5% raise by the state Legislature.

After controversy over the pay packages of the county's elected officials last year, the supervisors agreed in December to release themselves of the responsibility to decide their own salaries by linking their pay to the judges.

They voted to set their salaries at 65% of that of Superior Court judges, who received $99,297 a year at the time. As a result, supervisors' base pay was raised from $50,232 to $64,543 this year, while some financial perks were eliminated.

The supervisors agreed that they could only receive future raises when the state increases judicial salaries.

But, Howard said, she did not anticipate that the Legislature would give the judges a raise so soon.

"When we decided to hinge our salaries on the judges' I thought it was a good thing to do," Howard said. "But I don't think any of us intended to take a raise this year."

Supervisor John K. Flynn on Wednesday said he also plans to refuse the increase.

"It would be immoral to accept a raise when unemployment is as high as it is," Flynn said. "The economy would not allow it."

Supervisors Maggie Kildee, Maria VanderKolk and Susan Lacey could not be reached for comment.

Last year, the supervisors came under heated criticism after the county revealed that they and other elected officials were receiving tens of thousands of dollars in perks.

Although they agreed to cut the fringe benefits starting this year, Kildee, VanderKolk and Lacey agreed to accept between $12,000 and $15,000 for seven weeks vacation pay and other controversial perks accrued in 1992.

Flynn and Howard were the only two on the board to refuse the lump-sum payments, which were distributed in January.

H. Jere Robings, executive director of the Ventura County Alliance of Taxpayers, said the supervisors would be "committing political suicide" if they take the pay increase after cashing in on the perks this year.

"The public has had enough," Robings said. "If they take it, they will certainly hear from the electorate."

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