Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Contra Costa supervisors to vote on five-year, $250,000 a year pact with new administrator

Incoming county administrator Dave Twa stands to nearly double his Minnesota paycheck if Contra Costa County supervisors approve his proposed five-year, $250,000 annual base salary at today's meeting.

Twa, 64, spent five years leading Ramsey County, surrounding the St. Paul area, making $144,711 a year. A Minnesota state statute prevents county managers from making more than the governor.

If the Contra Costa board approves his contract, Twa would earn more than current county administrator John Cullen, whose base salary was raised last year to $231,000. Cullen plans to retire in September; Twa's new contract would begin Sept. 8.

Contra Costa Supervisor Gayle Uilkema said Twa's experience and skill set — he's an attorney and certified public accountant — make the compensation package fair.

"If he's working here, he needs to be paid at a commensurate level to the other people doing similar jobs," the Lafayette supervisor said. "He said he's a marathoner and in it for the long haul."

"It's a highly competitive market for top administrators in the public sector," supervisor Susan Bonilla said. "We wanted to be competitive to attract the level of expertise we needed in Contra Costa County."

Ramsey County Commissioner Rafael Ortega is sorry to see Twa go.

"It will be difficult to replace someone with his knowledgeable skills," Ortega said. "Other department heads respected him. There was no internal intrigue Advertisementto speak of."

Twa was never disciplined and had no formal complaints filed with Ramsey County during his tenure, Ramsey Human Resources Director Gail Blackstone said.

Twa has guided Ramsey County through its own, albeit drastically smaller, employee health care unfunded liability, Ortega said. Ramsey faces about a $320 million shortfall, compared with Contra Costa's estimated $1.7 billion, he said.

Twa tackled the problem in Minnesota by recommending appropriating millions of dollars each year toward the liability, as well as having future employees pay toward a health savings plan, Ortega said.

All Ramsey County commissioners reached for comment offered praise of Twa. Contra Costa supervisors will vote on Twa's compensation package at today's meeting.

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