The Board of Supervisors approved a series of pay raises for key government employees, including significant salary increases for members of the 2008 board, by a majority of 7-2.
Beginning January 2008, Supervisors' salaries will increase from $22,400 to $41,200, the vice chairman's salary will increase from $22,400 to $45,320 and the chairman's salary will increase by $10,000 to $50,000. Under state law, the Board of Supervisors cannot raise their own salaries and any raise they approve must take effect after a new board is elected.
In a separate vote, the board voted unanimously to raise salaries for members of several advisory boards, including the Board of Equalization, which will increase from $100 per day to $147 per day; the Board of Zoning Appeals, which will increase from $2,175 per year to $3,197 per year; the Planning Commission, which will increase from $15,200 per year to $22,334/year; the Social Services Board, which will increase from no pay to $600 per year and the Community Services Board, increasing from no salary to $600 per year.
The decision to raise salaries comes just as the board is entering into its budget deliberations, when the Supervisors are anticipating major belt tightening in most county departments.
THIS IS THE first pay raise for Supervisors since 1999 and for the chairman since 1996.
Originally, the proposal called for the vice chairman's salary to increase to $50,000 and the chairman's salary to increase to $58,800, but Chairman Scott K York (I-At large) said the approved numbers were appropriate.
"I think you can justify the salary of $58,800, but to the east they are looking at the range of $70,000 and to the west the chairman is at $3,000," he said. "I don't think any number is the magic number. I think it gets the board where they should be at the current date."
York said that the additional responsibilities of the chairman and the vice chairman justify the higher salaries, including representing the board at various meetings.
"There have been days where you could compensate me $200,000 and it ain't enough," he joked. "At the end of the day, while the position of the chairman will hold more duties than other board members, in many ways the work load is equaled out."
MOST SUPERVISORS felt the increased work load that has come with an exploding population, including longer work hours, more constituents‚ concerns and easier communication through cell phones and e-mails, made having a full-time job difficult.
Supervisors Lori Waters (R-Broad Run) said her constituent numbers have increased by thousands in recent years and that those residents should not suffer because she needs to have a full-time job.
Supervisor Stephen Snow (R-Dulles) said that his work load has increased as the number of residents throughout his district continues to grow, but that he could not support the idea of making money from public service.
"I don't have any problems from the outside looking in," he said. "But I did not expect that I was going to take away money from this."
Joining Snow in opposing the Supervisors' salary increase was Supervisor Jim Clem (R-Leesburg), who said he did not spend the $85,000 budget to run his office and was not comfortable increasing salaries when county departments were going to be asked to cut down on their budget requests.
"Money's are tight," he said. "The taxpayers are going to be suffering again this year."