Congratulations to all those San Luis Obispo County employees whose pay is in the six-figure bracket. The Tribune reported Sunday that almost 10 percent of our county’s employees were paid $100,000 or more last year.
Two got more than $200,000.
Yep, 238 county employees each got at least $100,000 last year. That’s out of 2,407 total employees. I’m still sorting out my thoughts about that.
My first thought was to congratulate those six-figure guys and gals, and their families. And they needn’t feel guilty. In most cases it wasn’t their fault. Wouldn’t the rest of us gladly accept their pay if we had the chance?
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My next thought was shock that the dollar has lost so much of its value in the past few years. There was a time when six-figure salaries were scarce. I wonder what those six-figure jobs paid 10 years ago.
I also found myself feeling unjustly inferior to those 238 six-figure salary employees. They’re making lots more money than I ever did. I feel an inferiority complex coming on. I want to sign up to be a malcontent.
So who can we blame for this situation? It would be satisfying to blame the usual suspects, namely our county Board of Supervisors. But we can’t. When it comes to setting most salaries, the county supervisors are handcuffed by this county’s prevailing wage ordinance.
The prevailing wage ordinance says the salaries paid to most of our county employees must be about the same as the salaries paid by comparable California counties. But if the supervisors aren’t to blame for this county ordinance, who is? It turns out the county voters are.
The prevailing wage ordinance was enacted by the county voters. Therefore, our supervisors can’t change it. We voters approved it sometime in the dim past. I can’t even remember how I voted on it.
But there’s hope. An ordinance that was enacted by the voters can be rescinded by the voters. And in this tea party era, the voters might be willing to do just that. Of course, to put this ordinance back on the ballot somebody would have to form a committee to pester folks to sign the necessary petitions.
But it might just be possible for the resentful five-figure wage earners to organize themselves and actually rescind the prevailing wage ordinance. The county supervisors would then have the power to set wages. That might not change things much, but we’d probably feel better for a little while.
Reach Phil Dirkx at firstname.lastname@example.org or 238-2372.