The Colusa County Board of Supervisors may have let two District Attorney investigators slip away to higher-paying agencies, but they won’t agree to re-bargain salaries midstream.
Interim Human Resource Director David Prentice told the board last week that the investigator salaries in the DA’s office are 12.6 percent below the medium in nine comparable counties but that he would not recommend a pay increase for recruitment and retention purposes because of an existing Memorandum of Understanding with the Colusa County Deputy Sheriff’s Association.
Prentice said the bargaining parties were aware of the salary issues when they entered into an agreement, which the board approved on April 21, 2020.
“This was actually a discussion during the negotiations,” Prentice said. “This issue came up. We did a (comprehensive) study and the board rejected it at that time and the MOU was signed.”
Historically, moving from a standard law enforcement position in Colusa County to the position of investigator was considered a promotion for deputies and sergeants recruited from the Sheriff’s Department, with a 10 percent salary increase.
That is no longer the case, despite more stringent education and experience requirements that are needed to nab the post, officials said.
A DA investigator is required to possess an associate’s degree in criminal justice and an intermediate POST certificate. A Sheriff’s sergeant is required to have a high school diploma and a POST basic certificate.
The pay, however, is comparable after the Board of Supervisors in April increased salaries in the Sheriff’s Department in an effort to recruit and retain staff.
The action, however, resulted in pay compression for investigators, who took the salary disparity as a demotion. Investigator Sara Martin immediately left for a position with the Colusa Police Department. Investigator Chris Liston left a short time later for a position with Butte County.
Prentice said that while the two candidates that applied for the open investigators positions were not accepted because they were minimally qualified and had problematic backgrounds, a third more qualified candidate has been certified and will interview for the position.
“There may be light at the end of the tunnel there,” he said.
While the board agreed that they would not reopen negotiations on a signed MOU under any circumstances, Supervisor Kent Boes suggested the pay inequity could be addressed through establishing a new position of DA Investigator 2, with a higher salary, which would allow the county to hire new investigators at either level, based on their experience and qualifications.
Prentice said it may take some time and a meeting with District Attorney Matthew Beauchamp to work out changes in investigator positions, but that it was possible without compromising the current MOU.