Measure Q, if passed, would average the salary of county supervisors with that of supervisors in Riverside, Orange and San Diego counties. Los Angeles County, which is included in the supervisor pay-scale formula, would no longer be included.
"By taking Los Angeles (County) out of the equation, it ensures that the compensation for supervisors is fair and is capped," said Paul Granillo, the president and CEO of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership.
Measure R proposes to reduce the job of county supervisor to a part-time position and set the total annual compensation for supervisors, including salary and benefits, to $60,000, with annual cost-of-living raises not to exceed 5 percent. It would also reduce staff budgets for each supervisor to $2.5 million.
Supervisors in San Bernardino County now earn $150,183 a year, plus benefits.
If both measures pass, the one that got more votes would take effect.
Proponents of Measure R say that despite the severe economic downturn, supervisors are enriching themselves and their staffs with six-figure salaries and robust benefit plans.
"What it will actually do, if passed, is discourage the big- money operators from being elected to our Board of Supervisors," said Burrell Woodring, who has served on the county Grand Jury three times, once as foreman. "Take away the big salary and perks, and I believe we will have a more transparent Board of Supervisors."
Measure Q would require a survey of supervisors' compensation in the comparison counties on Dec. 1, 2013, and every four years thereafter. The salary of San Bernardino County supervisors would be reduced or increased as necessary.
Measure Q would not change the method by which the salaries of other elected officials are set: by an average of the salaries paid to corresponding officials in Riverside, Kern, San Diego, Orange and Ventura counties.
Laren Leichliter, the president of the San Bernardino County Safety Employees Benefit Association, or SEBA, said the Measure R proposal, while extreme, is necessary given the fact that the Board of Supervisors has cut the number of meetings in half and has delegated much of its responsibility to Chief Executive Officer Greg Devereaux.
"Why should they get the same pay and same benefits when they're working half the time?" Leichliter said.
SEBA took over the Measure R petition drive in January in the wake of contentious labor negotiations between union representatives and the county. Leichliter made the announcement hours after a Board of Supervisors meeting in which the board directed county counsel to prepare a ballot initiative proposing that any benefit increases for county employees proposed by supervisors be put to a citizen vote.
The San Bernardino Public Employees Association, which represents about 11,000 county general employees, joined SEBA in the petition drive.
Within two months, 73,459 signatures had been gathered - more than 30,000 more than was needed to get the measure on the ballot.
Granillo said Measure R would leave the roughly 2 million residents of the county poorly represented, if represented at all. County supervisors oversee a $4 billion budget and serve on a variety of boards and committees that deal with such pertinent issues as water and air quality.
"For them (supervisors) to have to do it part-time is impossible," Granillo said.
He said Measure R is punitive, not only to county supervisors but also to taxpayers.
"Measure Q is about restoring good government. Measure R was an attempt by the unions to pressure the supervisors," Granillo said.
Be that as it may, Woodring said the county's long history of corruption, which he says continues with pending corruption cases involving former county officials and land developers, necessitates drastic action.
"The people deserve better," said Woodring, adding that the county has seldom taken the Grand Jury up on any of its recommendations for governmental reform. "It's time for drastic action."
Reach Joe via email, call him at 909-386-3874, or find him on Twitter @SBCountyNow.