County Gives Coroner’s Pathologists Raises To Offset Pension Takeaway

The three pathologists working at the senior level of the county coroner’s office were provided ten and eleven percent raises, effective this week.
While county employees in most divisions already have or are being asked to accept downward adjustments in their pay rates, sheriff’s captain Steve Higgins, who previewed the agenda item calling for the increases to the board of supervisors, said the “salaries of the pathologists were increased to retain parity with area counties. Given there are only an estimated 500 forensic pathologists nationwide, it is imperative that salaries remain competitive to enable the county to recruit and retain these highly sought-after individuals.”
In San Bernardino County, the coroner’s office is a division of the sheriff’s department.
Dr. Frank Sheridan, the county’s chief forensic pathologist, will be given a ten percent increase from $97.53/hour to $107.28/hour, representing a $20,280 per year increase. His total annual compensation will be $295,870 ($228,134 in salary and $67,736 in benefits).
Dr. Chanikarn Changsri, a forensic pathologist, will receive an 11 percent  increase, from $88.78/hour to $98.55/hour, representing a $20,322 per year increase. His total compensation package will jump to $264,813 ($204,984 in salary and $59,829 in benefits).
Dr. Dennis Rhee, a forensic pathologist, will get a ten percent increase, from $73.53/hour to $81.51/hour, a $16,598 per year increase. His total annual compensation will be adjusted upward to $225,448 ($169,541 in salary and $55,907 in benefits).
In addition to his base salary, Dr. Sheridan will continue to receive $2.40 per hour specialty pay for possessing American Board of Pathology certification in neuropathology.
According to Higgins, the salary increases will not result in larger paychecks to the doctors, as they are being provided to shield the doctors from the county’s takeaway of its previous perquisite of having the county’s taxpayers make county employees’ pension fund contributions.
“These contracts include updated benefit language and contribution levels,” Higgins said. “It is the intent of the county to ensure as much consistency as possible in all employee groups regarding compensation and benefit structure. The county’s objective is to have employees pay their portion of retirement benefits, eliminate any remaining benefit plan contributions that are pensionable and replace those with a non-pensionable medical premium subsidy. These salary increases are entirely offset by the elimination of the county’s contribution to the employee’s portion of the retirement contribution and discontinued special assignment compensation.”

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