Measure To Reduce Supervisors To Part Time Status Qualifies For November Ballot

An initiative to change San Bernardino County supervisors to part-time status and significantly curtail their pay and office budgets has qualified for the November ballot, the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters announced March 21.
Advocates of the measure, which was drafted and  initially sponsored by Wrightwood resident and former grand jury member Kieran “Red” Brennan, needed to obtain the valid signatures of ten percent of the county’s electorate – 43,520 – to qualify the initiative for the ballot. Brennan’s effort was boosted when the union for the county’s general employees, the San Bernardino Public Employees Association, and the union for the county’s sheriff deputies, the Safety Employees Benefit Association, took up his cause and utilized union money to hire petition gatherers.  Two weeks ago supporters turned petitions containing 73,672 signatures over to the registrar of voters. By Wednesday, the registrar had examined enough of those petitions and compared the signatures contained thereon against voter-registration documents to ascertain that the threshold to qualify the measure for the ballot had been achieved.
Framed as the “San Bernardino County Elected Officials Pay Reduction Act,” the measure if passed would provide for a charter amendment reducing the pay and benefits of the county’s five elected supervisors from an average of $271,000 to $60,000 annually, and cut their district budgets from a total of $6 million to $250,000 per supervisor.
The effort to qualify the measure for a vote brought together some disparate, even contradictory, elements. Much of the original impetus for reducing the supervisors to part time legislators stemmed from the desire to rein in county spending in general, including salaries and benefits to county employees.
Nevertheless, the unions became involved in large measure because county supervisors have given county chief executive officer Greg Devereaux wide latitude in pushing all of the county’s employee bargaining groups to accept either pay reductions, decreased benefits, greater employee contributions toward health coverage and pension funds or a combination thereof in preparation for upcoming contract negotiations.
The initiative will come before the board of supervisors on Tuesday, March 27. Under state law, the supervisors can directly adopt the measure as drafted, place it on the November 6 ballot or take up to 30 days to conduct a study before taking either of those actions. One issue the board is likely to seek information on is whether the measure’s provisions will go into immediate effect upon passage or whether the pay and benefit reductions will not go into effect until all current terms of the supervisors, including those elected in June or November, end.

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