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Voters leaning toward slashing San Bernardino County supervisors’ pay, term limits

Riverside Press-Enterprise 11/4/2020 Ryan Hagen
a clock on the side of a building: The San Bernardino County Government Center in San Bernardino on Tuesday, December 11, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG) © Provided by Riverside Press-Enterprise The San Bernardino County Government Center in San Bernardino on Tuesday, December 11, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

San Bernardino County voters appear to be favoring a change to the charter that would slash supervisors’ pay and term limits, while roughly split on a different charter change measure, in early election results Tuesday, Nov. 3.

And a fire tax on property owners in San Bernardino, Upland, Twentynine Palms, Needles and some unincorporated areas also was in jeopardy, with Measure U — which would repeal the tax — losing by a nose.

Later results will show whether Measure K becomes law, slashing the five county supervisors’ compensation — pay and benefits combined — to $60,000 each per year and limiting them to just one term in office. That would make San Bernardino County the only county in California with a term limit of just four years.

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Alternatively, election returns could give more votes to Measure J, which would less drastically modify supervisors’ pay and term limits — no more than three terms and pay of 80% of a Superior Court judge’s salary, or 80% of about $175,000 as of 2020. Measure J would set benefits equal to county department heads.

Measure J would also modernize the charter, which functions as the county’s constitution. For instance, it would remove outdated and sexist language such as always referring to a “chairman” and “his” duties, supervisors said as they voted to put it on the ballot.

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If both measures fail, supervisors’ compensation will continue to be set as the average of what county supervisors for Riverside, Orange and San Diego counties make.

Backers of Measure K said $60,000 is plenty for a part-time job — which is what would become of a county supervisor’s role if the measure wins — as it is the median salary in San Bernardino County. They also said four years is enough time to accomplish campaign promises and that a single term limit would be an exciting experiment.

Opponents said the pay is too little to attract qualified candidates, especially given the campaigning that’s necessary before getting the job and the lack of privacy that comes with the job.

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