Recently, I read a “Guest View” opinion piece written by Courtney Ortega from Glad Tidings Church in the Appeal-Democrat (Feb. 2, 2022). Ms. Ortega attacks government employees as a whole and targets a wonderful community leader who represents Sutter County with professionalism and ethics that are above reproach – Dan Flores. Before penning the opinion piece, Ms. Ortega would have been wise to do her homework; the statistics she’d like your readers to believe are patently false.
Ms. Ortega wants you to believe that all Sutter County employees make $110,000 per year in a loaded salary + benefits. It’s common knowledge that an Administrative Clerk does not take home the same salary as a Physician. In her article Ms. Ortega states “the average local private sector worker in Sutter County makes $38,000 per year.” Ms. Ortega references Transparent California and the 2021 U.S. Census as her sources, however Transparent California’s website clearly shows that for 2020 the median pay for a full-time, year-round county employee is $62,586. Even when benefits are included (which are not included in the $38,000 for the average local private sector worker), the median comes to $85,135, far less than the $110,000 Ms. Ortega claims.
In her article, Ms. Ortega states that the County owed $270,000,000 in “debt due to our public servants’ retirement funds.” The most recent CalPERS valuation from June 30, 2020, shows the County’s unfunded pension liability as $178,010,797, nearly $100 million less than Ms. Ortega’s claim. That is a discrepancy in her figures of nearly $100 MILLION DOLLARS!
Had Ms. Ortega done her due diligence, she would know that CalPERS’ investments experienced unprecedented investment returns greater than 21% in 2020-2021. As a result, Sutter County expects its 2021 valuation will show a substantial liability reduction.
For those who are unaware, Dan Flores, who currently serves as a Supervisor for Sutter County, accepted a position working for a neighboring municipality outside of Sutter County. It is extremely common for Supervisors to have day jobs – in fact, in recent history Preet Didbal, past Mayor/Councilmember of Yuba City, worked for the State of California and Tej Maan, past City Councilmember for Yuba City, was a Department Head for the County of Yuba. Having a day job is not a conflict.
It’s unfortunate that Ms. Ortega did not fully research her facts, spent time fabricating misleading stories, and took aim at a very respectful person. In the future, I hope she will seek the truth and begin doing positive, meaningful work to bolster the Yuba-Sutter region.
I wish Mr. Flores much success at his new day job and I look forward to seeing the great things he will accomplish in his next 4 years on the Sutter County Board of Supervisors. He is a person who has and I am sure will in the future, have the good of the bi-county region foremost in mind.
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