By Michael Burkholder
In the name of fairness, maybe the time has come for the City of Oakley to adopt the Ironhouse Sanitary District Board compensation package to its City Council. After all, it’s the fair thing to do since Ironhouse makes nearly three times what our councilmembers make for far less effort.
According to the Ironhouse Sanitary District Bylaws, each member of the Board shall receive compensation in an amount not to exceed $170 per day whether it is 15-minutes of work or four hours, they get the $170—not exceeding six days in a calendar month. They also receive medical ($625-$1,588 a month), dental and vision which vary based on plans.
To put this in perspective, with just meeting compensation and medical ($2,608 x 12), a director can max out at $31,296 per year which does not include travel, mileage, food reimbursements, dental or vision.
Contrast that to the Oakley City Council who get paid a monthly stipend at $435—or just $5,220 per year. Using common sense, they also have a far greater amount of meetings to attend and responsibilities that reach a far greater reach of people.
What is scary about this compensation is that one director who maxes out at Ironhouse will make more than the entire Oakley City Council. This is a flat out rip off to ratepayers. When you look at the Grand Jury Report from last year, as a Board, Ironhouse cost ratepayers $94,070 while Oakley City Council was just $28,544.
It is my belief that when you sit on a board, you have a certain responsibility to those who elected you to office to attend your committee meeting and meet with ratepayers as part of your job description—one shouldn’t get paid additional meetings for doing their job they were elected to do. It’s about doing the right thing, Ironhouse Directors are taking advantage of the loose bylaws and charging ratepayers for items they have no business charging. Meanwhile, they continue to raise your rates each year.
Since this is occurring at Ironhouse and few people seem to care, then the Oakley City Council should then follow the same rules and also get paid the same $170 stipend for their committee meetings and any ad-hoc committee that is formed or any phone calls/conference calls or groundbreakings/openings they attend.
Here is some items I’ve pulled off Doug Hardcastle, Michael Painter, and David Contreras time cards over the last few years which you have paid for that falls outside their monthly meeting (I could have gone all the way back to 2000, but this gives you the point). Remember, this is $170 a pop which most of these are re-occurring each month.
Here is a snippet from Doug Harcastle
- Hardcastle – Attending Oakley City Council Meetings
- Hardcastle – Check signings (monthly)
- Hardcastle – Special workshop (no description given)
- Hardcastle – Lunch meeting with Tom Williams (Feb 2012)
- Hardcastle – Meeting w/Tom (no description from 12/28)
- Hardcastle – April 2009, he charged to attend his own Groundbreaking
Here is a snippet from Michael Painter
- Painter – Delta Science Center Board Meeting (monthly)
- Painter – Check Signing
- Painter – meeting with Tom Williams (no description given)
- Painter – watershed meeting (11/17)
- Painter – Grand Opening (10/15)
- Painter – Agenda Meeting w/Tom Williams (3/28)
- Painter – Friends of Marsh Creek Meeting (12/17)
- Painter – Meeting with Jim Frazier, City of Oakley (11/19)
- Painter – Antioch Recycled Water Grand Opening (8/23)
- Painter – Roni Gehlke – Newsletter (3/12)
- Painter – Delta Science Center Teleconference (12/16)
- Painter – Helicopter Tour Franchise Agreement subcommittee
Here is a snippet from David Contreras who was recently appointed and has little history at the District.
- Contreras – Outreach Committee Meeting (monthly)
- Contreras – Newsletter
- Contreras – Public Outreach (no description)
- Contreras – Public Outreach – Ad-Hoc Committee
As you can see, these are some very questionable charges to ratepayers with little explanation. Full reform must be done to end these abuses to ratepayers. While $170 isn’t much per day, over time it does add up! I would hope that since Ironhouse falls within Supervisor Mary Piepho District, she could have a little chat to ensure changes are made. While it’s not under her authority per-say, LAFCO could come in and force the changes.
Now while I am sure at some point this will be taken out of context, but lets have some fun and apply Ironhouse rules to the Oakley Council. Meaning each time they answer phone calls from City Staff they can charge $170 to the City. Every time they have a breakfast/lunch with Bryan Montgomery, they can charge residents a $170.
This is what each council person would make if the city paid $170 per additional committee meeting to our council—I’ve also added the $435 stipend for city council meetings in the figure which would come to an annual rate far greater than the current $5,220 for everyone but Randy Pope.
- Anderson: $10,200 +$5,220 = $15,420
- Frazier: $18,360 + $5,220 = $23,580
- Pope: $0 (no committees at this time) + $5,220 = $5,220
- Rios: $4,080 + $5,220 = $9,300
- Romick – $22,440 + $5,220 = $27,660
Combined, Oakley should be paying its council a combined $82,980 in salary to attend meetings. Now for the kicker, since Ironhouse essentially gets its 5-additional “floater” meetings, add that to each councilperson each month which equates to an additional $10,200 annually per councilperson ($51,000 combined). Throw in the annual medical benefits of $19,056 ($95,280) for the council and the total compensation would equate to $229,260.
The point of this exercise is not that I want the City Council to increase their pay, because I don’t and I am being facetious here, but to highlight what Ironhouse has gotten away with for far to long. It also highlights how ridiculous the Ironhouse pay and compensation package is when applied elsewhere.
If Oakley attempted such a move to apply the Ironhouse compensation package, residents would be out with pitchforks and torches calling for resignations. At Ironhouse, residents don’t’ say a word on the pay or benefits or event when rates are increased. It is my belief that if elected, one should serve by doing the right thing and serve the ratepayers, not create meetings out of nothing in order to fatten ones pockets.
Doug Hardcastle should not be given $170 to attend City Council Meetings and Michael Painter should not be given $170 to attend the Delta Science Center Meetings (a non-profit of all things). David Contreras is charging to do a newsletter instead of staff? Give me a break. These are just a few small abuses that go on monthly. Request their time cards and you will see what I am talking about–or I can just give them to you!
It’s time for the ratepayers to stop giving Ironhouse a pass on their pay and benefits and demand some real reform that will protect the rates while putting their pay inline with the Oakley City Council. You are being ripped off and the time has come to make changes that benefit the ratepayers, not the Board.