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County Administrator Pickels gets raise, contract extension
The Yuma County Board of Supervisors approved a three-year extension of County Administrator Robert Pickels' employment contract Monday that includes a 10 percent raise.
Pickels, who answers to the Yuma County Board of Supervisors, will be paid a base salary of $165,000 per year and be expected to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Fringe benefits include a $600 per month car allowance and 33 days (or 264 hours) of accrued paid time off per year.
The raise is over a previous salary of $149,800. It had not changed since 2009.
Supervisor Russ Clark recognized Pickels before moving to approve the contract. The board then unanimously gave it the OK with no further discussion.
“I'm new to the board but I'm not new to Yuma and I'm not new to these kind of processes, and I've been on boards before where our executive leaders have had issues or problems and have cost our organizations lots of time, money and interference,” Clark said. “I just want to go on the record as supporting Robert Pickels and his contract. I think it's long overdue. He's done the job that's been asked of him. He's given great leadership to the county.”
The contract runs through March 2016. Pickels has been Yuma County administrator since 2008.
Getting more discussion at Monday's meeting was the potential for adding to the Justice Court “Enhancement Fees.”
The supervisors only needed to decide whether or not to set up a public hearing to further discuss the proposed added fees, which include $10 on all civil complaints and small claims, and $10 for civil traffic offenses resulting in default judgments due to a defendant's failure to appear. The proposal also includes upping the fee for a person found guilty of a criminal traffic or misdemeanor offense from $10 to $20.
But Supervisor Russ McCloud said he can't back up adding to the burden of people seeking justice in “the people's court,” or adding to the cost of getting caught committing a minor driving error.
Last year, while en route to a supervisors' meeting, he was ticketed for doing a rolling stop. He said the resulting financial penalty was too steep.
“That tiny little offense cost me $283. Now, I'm thinking about people who are just trying to get by, making a living, and make a mistake just like I did. $283 is a huge piece of somebody's budget,” McCloud said. “You know, the actual fine, I think, was $140 or something like that. And then there's things like this.”
He said $10 doesn't sound like much but at some point the add-ons have to stop.
Judge Greg Stewart, Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1, said he understood McCloud's frustration, but revenues simply aren't keeping pace with expenses or projections. The fee schedule was last modified 10 years ago and the account is set to zero out in the next fiscal year. He said if court users don't add to the revenue stream then all taxpayers will if the court seeks cash from the general fund.
“If I felt there were other means to avoid this certainly we would consider doing that,” Stewart said.
The public comment session is set for April 15.
In other meeting action, the supervisors:
• Renewed the county's contract with Phoenix-based Canteen Correctional Services to provide food services for the Yuma County jail. The contract renewal also includes a penny-per-meal price increase, bringing the cost from $1.069 per plate to $1.082.
The vendor sought the increase to cover the rising cost of goods and labor. Jail meals here number about 1,500 daily.
Canteen has worked with Yuma County since 2007.
• Approved the purchase and installation of a modular classroom for use as a science lab at Aztec High School, which is under the umbrella of the Yuma County Juvenile Justice Center. The modular unit is expected to cost no more than $232,000.