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Supervisors may repeal controversial pay policy

The Merced County Board of Supervisors has decided to scrap a controversial policy that gives bonuses to elected officials who provide at least one-year notice before leaving office.

The board voted during this week’s supervisors meeting to tentatively approve rescinding the bonus.

They’ll vote to finalize that decision at their next meeting, when the county’s attorney will return with a formal resolution to undo the policy.

The bonus dates back to 2001 when the board approved a resolution that gives a 5 percent pay increase to all top-level county managers — including both elected and appointed department heads — in exchange for providing the county with at least one-year notice before quitting or retiring.

The bonus is meant to encourage high-level employees to give early notice, allowing the county plenty of time to find qualified successors.

Since its approval, however, the policy has drawn criticism. Some have asked why the bonus is extended to elected officials whose term ending dates are known from the time they take office and who are replaced by voters, not by the Board of Supervisors.

The board revisited the policy on Tuesday, unanimously voting to remove elected officials from the list of employees eligible for the bonus. Hired department heads can still collect it.

To date, the bonus policy has cost county tax payers more than $100,000.