East BayGovernmentLaborNews

Supes weigh pay raises without assessor amid allegations, pending hearing

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Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors
The seal of Contra Costa County, Calif.

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors will consider salary increases for three elected department heads Tuesday morning at their regularly scheduled meeting in Martinez, but Assessor Gus Kramer will be left out of the action until “issues in the Department have been resolved.”

A civil grand jury filed a formal accusation against Kramer in June alleging he created a hostile and abusive work environment, citing reports of unwanted sexual remarks and racially disparaging comments to employees.

Kramer responded to the allegations in a statement on his personal website, saying he welcomed the opportunity to confront his accusers and that county supervisors as well as members of the media would be ashamed of themselves for their “political persecution.”

While this is a civil matter, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office said it will be handled in criminal court for the purpose of holding a trial.

Kramer has a hearing involving a motion to dismiss the case against him scheduled for the end of August. Meanwhile, the county’s auditor-controller, clerk-recorder and treasurer-tax collector are all up for a raise.

A recent survey of Bay Area county governments found that elected officials serving in these positions are being paid below-average salaries. The motion going before the board of supervisors would change that. County staff say the raise is necessary to keep experienced personnel in those positions and attract highly effective and motivated individuals to run for those offices, and that it will only cost the county about $55,000 a year.

International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21, which represents many county employees, issued a statement when asked for comment on the proposed raises — which affect just one person at the top of each department listed.

Spokesperson Jessica Bowker said:

“We appreciate that Contra Costa County is adopting logical standards when it comes to offering competitive pay for electeds and department heads.”

“If only the county would adopt a similar, logical approach for compensating its rank-and-file workers we could begin to seriously address the county’s recruitment and retention crisis and improve public services for the county’s residents and businesses.”

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors meets at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the supervisors’ chambers at 651 Pine St., in Martinez. The meeting agenda, including links to the staff report for this agenda item, are available online at https://bit.ly/2Yfblfr.

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