The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

June 16, 2010
Is Sacramento flood agency secretly raising employee pay?

On June 8, The Bee received a tip that the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency might be planning a new round of significant compensation increases for its employees. If true, the agency -- which is governed by representatives from several local government bodies and receives most of its funding from the state -- would differ sharply from most state-funded agencies, which are freezing and cutting salaries in the face of severe budget shortfalls.

I've tried to get a straight answer about possible plans to boost salary and benefit packages at SAFCA. But the agency's executive director, Stein Buer (pictured at right), did not respond to several inquires on Wednesday. Stein Buer.JPGIts external press representative, Barbara Gualco of Gualco Consulting, did not respond to repeated direct questions about whether compensation changes are planned.

Last spring, The Bee reported that Buer had proposed raises of up to 51 percent for nine employees. SAFCA's board then rejected the plan as inappropriate during the economic crisis. But the board approved a 27 percent boost for Buer himself, who now earns $195,000 annually.

The agency was created in 1989 to respond to the threat of serious flooding from the Sacramento and American rivers after large winter storms. It contracts with other agencies and companies to build and improve levees and provide other flood protections. SAFCA's budget for the current fiscal year is $279 million.

The agency's next board meeting, which is open to the public, will be held tomorrow, Thursday, June 17, at 3 p.m., in the City of Sacramento Council Chambers, 915 I St.

- Charles Piller

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