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Auburn’s county seat status, raise for supes on the table with Placer panel

No decisions but plenty of discussion on county Charter Review Commission
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - A panel looking into possible changes in the Placer County charter wants to see what’s possible in hiking Board of Supervisors pay and moving administrative offices out of the county seat of Auburn.

Meeting in Auburn on Wednesday, the Placer County Charter Review Committee took no action but agreed there was more to look at in the new year on the potential for a new vote on the current $30,000 compensation cap supervisors are now under.

Chairman Jim Williams of Roseville, who served a term in the late 1990s on the board, said that while the idea of floating a raise with voters for the county’s five supervisors would be “a challenge at the least,” it would be worth a more detailed look by the panel.

“I can’t see people voting for it,” Williams said. “Any time voters can exact vengeance on government, they do it – especially around here.”

Williams said that if the economy heats up again, there might be an opportunity. The $30,000 ceiling was adopted by voters in 1992 and needs voter approval to be changed.

The idea of putting supervisor compensation to a vote was seriously discussed four years ago at the Board of Supervisors level, but a proposal to raise the ceiling to $48,000 was rejected.

Wayne Nader, who chaired the previous charter review commission, asked members of the new panel to consider a more detailed review of county options in moving offices and meetings from Auburn.

Nader said that with new buildings completed in the County Government Center in North Auburn, he wondered if the county charter would allow administrative offices now located at the County Administrative Center on Fulweiler Avenue in Auburn to relocate outside city limits.

“In the charter, it’s very vague – ‘Where it is now is how it’s going to stay,’” Nader said. “The latitude needs to be there to move the county seat wherever it makes prudent sense to manage county functions.”

Susan Prince, who represents District 5 on the commission, said that having offices in the same complex creates efficiencies but also intangible benefits in the form of proximity of employees.

“There are the intangible costs of not being able to walk down the hall to get a point clarified,” Prince said.

Williams asked staff at the meeting to look further into what exactly the “county seat” status entails.

Auburn has been the county seat since Placer was founded in 1852. But, in recent years, as its population has been eclipsed by growth in South Placer County, justice and other offices have been moved to the Roseville area.

Additionally, not all Board of Supervisors meetings are held in Auburn. The board travels at least three times yearly to the Tahoe area for meetings there.