Big raise for Nevada County executive |

Big raise for Nevada County executive

NEVADA CITY — County Executive Officer Rick Haffey, the county’s highest-ranking worker, will receive a raise of nearly 17 percent to $160,000 annually next month after supervisors approved the hike at a meeting Tuesday.

Haffey’s raise comes amid an economic slowdown and the prospect of lower property tax revenue in Nevada County and throughout the state. A day earlier, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered state departments to cut budgets by 10 percent, reflecting a financial crisis made worse by a troubled housing market.

The county Board of Supervisors said the raise makes Haffey’s salary competitive with counties of comparable size. Although acknowledging the financial challenges ahead, local officials said the county remains in solid financial shape and can afford the increase.

In July, supervisors also adopted pay hikes for most county employees, managers and six elected officials for the next five years.

Supervisors approved two raises for Haffey as part of their consent agenda, which comes without public discussion at the time of the meeting.

Starting Dec. 1, Haffey’s paycheck will climb from $137,000 to $160,000 yearly. His pay is expected to jump to $168,000 annually in July 2008, subject to the 2008-2009 budget review, for a total increase of nearly 23 percent over his current salary.

“What we found was, he was one of the lowest-paid CEO’s around,” said board Chairman John Spencer.

Haffey’s salary was determined by taking an average of five other counties – Yuba, Sutter, Mendocino, Calaveras and Siskiyou.

The board weighed the prospect of state budget cuts, the economy and declining property tax revenue before making their decision, Spencer said. They also considered Grass Valley’s trouble finding a permanent replacement for their city administrator, Spencer said.

In Grass Valley, interim Administrator Jeff Foltz said the city is having trouble finding qualified candidates for the top job, because the pay is low compared to comparable government jobs.

Grass Valley and Nevada City public workers and managers also received raises this year as part of union and individual contracts. Most of them were cost-of-living adjustments, although some mangers received more significant increases.

“In an effort to keep stability, sometimes you need to make tough decisions so there is not a major disruption,” Spencer said.

Haffey began working for the county in 1999 and was promoted by a previous board to county executive officer in 2003.

During this year’s annual performance review, Haffey was evaluated for his communication skills, knowledge of his job and how he works with the general public and staff, Spencer said.

“He came up with an excellent score on just about everything. We like Rick. We don’t want to lose him,” Spencer said.

The county can bear the extra budget expense because of money that has been set aside, Haffey said.

“We’re in a very good financial state, better than most counties,” he said.

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