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Santa Clara County’s district attorney, public defender and county counsel have received a holiday treat from a divided Board of Supervisors: fatter paychecks. On Tuesday, supervisors voted 3-2 to give District Attorney George Kennedy a 6 percent pay increase — pushing his base salary to $222,422. The move followed a vote the week before giving County Counsel Ann Ravel a 5 percent raise, bumping her salary to $213,746 a year. Public Defender Jose Villarreal also got an additional 5 percent on a 3-2 vote, raising his salary to $199,047 and extending his contract until May 2004. But the bad economy did kill at least one perk on the table for Kennedy. The board Tuesday decided not to give him a 13.5 percent bonus — or $24,000. Elected officials do not receive pay for vacation days, and supervisors considered the bonus to put pay and benefits packages for the DA, sheriff and assessor on par with top appointed staff. Appointees receive 39 days of paid leave a year. “We all have to share the pain,” Supervisor Peter McHugh told spectators at Tuesday’s board meeting. “These are supposed to be difficult times,” McHugh said after the meeting. “Our administration keeps telling us the sky is falling, and we are going to have to make drastic cuts. The idea of offering a 13.5 percent bonus, if you will, seemed inappropriate.” McHugh, who along with Supervisor James Beall Jr. voted against pay raises, said the county is facing a $74 million budget shortfall for the upcoming year, and now’s not the time to boost executive pay. The trio of salary increases for Santa Clara’s top attorneys caps a generous year for South Bay government attorneys, with supervisors essentially giving every attorney on their payroll a raise. But the raises have left a bitter taste for Supervisor McHugh, who says decisions to give pay raises to management — as well as a 15.5 percent bump for deputy DAs, PDs and county counsel — could have been a mistake. McHugh characterized the two-year contract with the Government Attorneys Association that calls for a salary survey each year and allows for a more than 30 percent raise “inappropriate.” “It will bring them into line with what people are paid in the private sector,” McHugh said, “but it kind of ignores that the public sector offers some good benefits and typically their salaries are not comparable. The government attorneys should be congratulated. . . . We agreed to it, but we did not realize the impact.” Senior deputy attorneys, after the increase, now make nearly $153,000 a year. McHugh said county employees could face salary cuts next years and that it’s silly to give raises only to take them away the next year. But McHugh concedes that they’re contractually bound to provide raises for deputy attorneys. “If times were different and we had the resources, our people deserve to be paid comparable,” McHugh said. “If you are going to make cuts, it’s inappropriate to compensate some while you are taking away from the needy.” Kennedy refused to comment for the record on his salary package. James Shore, president of the Government Attorneys Association and a deputy DA, said he believes the raises for deputies were appropriate and necessary. “I think it’s important in good economic times and in bad to retain and recruit the best people,” Shore said. “Public safety doesn’t ebb and flow like the economy. Crime continues and our people need to be . . . equitably compensated.”

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