'Pay raise' actually a cut
for county manager
A unanimous San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 23 introduced a measure to raise the annual salary of the county manager to $300,000. If the board approves the measure in January, the $30,000, 11-percent raise would benefit John Maltbie, the county manager for 20 years prior to his retirement in 2008 and who the board has rehired after 13 months as interim manager.
But while $300,000 is a raise, it is actually a cut in Mr. Maltbie's pay, for both his interim managerial work and when he was in the position permanently.
As interim manager for the year that began in November 2011, Mr. Maltbie made around $325,000 during the 12 months, if you include his retirement pay, according to calculations confirmed by supervisors Don Horsley and Dave Pine. He received $133,000 in retirement money, which he is entitled to draw from the county provided he worked as interim manager fewer than 960 hours per fiscal year. Because he began and is terminating his interim position around the middle of two fiscal years, 2011-12 and 2012-13, he met the 960-hour requirement for both years and earned $192,000 at $100 an hour during the 12 months.
As permanent manager, Mr. Maltbie was paid $270,000 but regularly made around $342,000, Mr. Horsley told the Almanac. How? By exercising a privilege granted to the county manager and the county counsel: they receive nine weeks of vacation per year (another singular privilege) and they can cash in unused vacation and raise their salaries while retaining their jobs.
These privileges are still in effect for both Mr. Maltbie and County Counsel John Beiers, which Mr. Beiers confirmed in an email. If Mr. Maltbie exercises this privilege, he could increase his new salary to $352,000, but the board has suggested, and Mr. Maltbie apparently agrees, that he will not do that. The contract includes the following sentence: "It is the intention of the County Manager and Board of Supervisors that the County Manager fully utilize his annual vacation accrual."
"These were the terms that were negotiated to retain him," Mr. Pine said in an interview. "One of the most important decisions a government board will ever make is (choosing) the chief executive officer. From my perspective, you want to find the best person you can and have confidence in that person's abilities."
Had Mr. Maltbie not been interested in the job, a recruiter would likely have done a salary survey and returned with a figure close to $300,000, Mr. Beiers said. The salary has been unchanged for five years, he said, adding that the county did do an "informal" salary survey. "We want to attract top talent."