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Math error led to 36% raise for Sacramento County supervisors, grand jury says

By Brandon Downs

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    SACRAMENTO (KOVR) — A math error that was never corrected led to the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors giving themselves a 36% raise in 2023, according to the 2023-2024 Sacramento County Grand Jury report released on Friday.

In May 2023, CBS13 cited a report that said Sacramento’s board members had a base salary of just over $123,000. The recommendation at the time was to give them a 20% raise.

“A critical math mistake in the informational meeting packet given to the Board led some of the supervisors – and the public – to initially think they were approving a 20% raise. It was, in fact, 36%,” said Steve Caruso, 2023-24 Grand Jury foreperson.

It wasn’t until after the vote that the error was found, according to the report.

Caruso said county staff then did not update board members with the correct information afterward.

The grand jury interviewed 16 people and reviewed regulations, ordinances and agenda packets. What the grand jury found was the pay raise proposal appeared on the consent calendar for the April 18 and May 23 meetings.

Using the consent calendar is not illegal, the grand jury said, but it lacks transparency.

“During our investigation, county staff acknowledged that it was a mistake to tuck the salary increase proposal in the middle of the consent calendar,” Caruso said. “But we also hold the supervisors accountable because they had the authority to take the proposal off the consent calendar to encourage more public discussion, but they made a conscious decision not to.”

California law mandates a 60-day wait before the salary increase but the county directed it to start 30 days after the vote, the grand jury found. The law is designed to allow time for voters to organize a referendum to overturn the decision.

The grand jury issued seven recommendations, including having staff explain the financial errors and if any money already paid to supervisors should be returned to the county in an open board meeting. They also recommended a citizen-based compensation commission be formed.

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