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Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors Approves Salary Adjustment

-Editorial

In a move to modernize the compensation for public officials, the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) Board of Directors adopted Ordinance No. 24-1. This ordinance adjusts the salaries of IID directors to align with those of the Imperial County Board of Supervisors, with future adjustments tied automatically to any changes in the supervisors’ compensation.

The adoption comes after more than 25 years without a salary increase for IID directors. The previous salary of $3,935 per month, established by Ordinance No. 97-1 in 1997, was significantly outpaced by inflation and other public sector salary adjustments. Adjusted for inflation, the 1997 salary of $47,220 annually equates to approximately $92,000 today.

Under the Water Code section 22840(a), the IID Board’s salaries are subject to referendum and must not exceed those of the Imperial County Board of Supervisors. Since 1997, the Board of Supervisors has updated its salary ordinance nine times, with the most recent amendment in September 2023 setting their annual salary at $65,723.76 effective July 2024. 

Ordinance 24-1 ensures that IID directors’ salaries match those of the supervisors and will automatically adjust with any future changes. The ordinance does not include one-time bonuses and mileage reimbursements, which are part of the supervisors’ compensation. This new salary structure will take effect on July 21, 2024.

The annual financial impact of this adjustment is estimated to be around $93,000, with future costs dependent on salary changes for the Imperial County Board of Supervisors.

During the May 21 meeting, the IID Board opened the floor to public comments on the proposed ordinance. Arguments for and against were heard, with staff recommending adoption in the absence of persuasive opposition. Ultimately, the Board voted in favor of Ordinance No. 24-1.

Former IID Directors Bruce Kuhn and Tony Gallegos supported the raise as they argued that it was time that their pay increase as its been a long time coming. 

“You invest a lot of time as IID Directors and you need to be compensated for your work,” Gallegos told the board.

IID Director Division 4 Javier Gonzalez said he would abstain from voting from this item since he is on the middle of his reelection bid for the seat. 

In the same vein, the board tabled a discussion regarding the health and welfare benefits for Directors until their first meeting in June.

On April 21, 2024, the Board set a policy for directors’ health and welfare benefits separate from salary considerations, as per Policy GP-10. The resolution passed ensures that IID directors receive the same benefits as hourly district employees, including health coverage, retirement contributions, and life insurance, but excludes sick leave, vacation leave, or other types of leave. Directors will qualify for retiree health benefits after serving two full terms, totaling eight years.

“The new ordinance and the resolution on health and welfare benefits would mark a significant update in the IID’s approach to compensating its directors, ensuring that their remuneration is fair and competitive while remaining transparent and subject to public oversight,” according to an IID report. 

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