Home Bethel Island 1999-2012: Ironhouse Sanitary District Pay Increases

1999-2012: Ironhouse Sanitary District Pay Increases

by ECT

At the expense of the rate payer, the Ironhouse Sanitary District has flourished for many years and has been relatively unaffected.  While a majority of agencies, cities, and special districts in  Contra Costa County have had to tighten their belts, Ironhouse has continued it’s business as usual attitude by building a brand new facility while ensuring pay increases to staff that coincide with annual rate increases.

Most people don’t know this, but since 1999, ratepayers serviced by Ironhouse Sanitary District have received rate increases each and every year which has ballooned to $618 while Oakley/Bethel Island pay the highest rates in the area which are only scene on your property tax bill.

Before I go a step further, this is no reflection of ISD staff who have been very kind to me and our a joy to speak with, but rather its a reflection on the arrogance of the ISD Board and executive director Tom Williams who had ignored many of my questions and concerns for months before my recent request.

You essentially have 5 directors making a decision for roughly 35,000 people to increase your rates. Compare that to East Contra Costa County Fire Protection District who needed additional revenue and had to go for a $197 parcel tax which ultimately closed 3 stations (5 over the last few years) because the revenue was not there. They also had to layoff firefighters.

The City of Oakley has not been immune to this economy either. The employees of the City take around 20 furlough days each year to reduce cost on the taxpayers. In contrast, Ironhouse has simply raised rates to avoid pay cuts, layoffs and furloughs while instead giving salary increases.

I have the document that proves this.  While I can go back to fiscal year 1999/2000 to make the point, i can simply go back to the 2008 election and you get an idea of what has transpired–excluding hourly staff.

  • Fiscal Year 2008/2009: all 31 employees received a pay raise.
  • Fiscal Year 2009/2010:  31 of 32 employes received pay raises
  • Fiscal Year 2010/2011: 9 of 31 employees received pay raises
  • Fiscal Year 2011/2012:  31 of 34 employees received pay raises
  • Fiscal Year 2011/2012: 31 of 34 employees received pay raises (listed twice–might mean 2012/2013)

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying I am opposed to pay raises for employees, but if you are going to raise rates each year, one would think this would occur only after salary reductions, furloughs, and in a worst case scenario job layoffs which in tough economic times nearly every other agency or district in Contra Costa County has dealt with what Ironhouse has avoided.

In speaking with Executive Director Tom Williams, avoiding layoffs to improve staff moral by giving pay raises (confirmed by multiple other sources) was the big reason for the board approving the most recent rate increase from $592 to $618.

My Request to ISD:
Records reflecting pay raises or new positions created for Ironhouse Sanitary District employees, if any from 2000 to present.

I was supplied the following document by executive Director Tom Williams: Request 11

Tidbits from the document.

  1. It does not provide annual salary as it’s broken down by monthly pay.  Meaning, there is a lot of math to do in order to find out the actual annual salary by year for each employee–it also does not show staff positions.
  2. It does not provide any benefits/retirement figures, only salary and  any increase.
  3. Dave Bauer final year $108,216 in 2004/2005 when he retired as General Manager. Tom Williams took over in 2005/2006 and received a bump in pay from $94,800 to a whopping $135,000.  Today, he makes $153,456--remember, these figures do not include benefits.

November Election

  • 3 seats are up for election this year (Contreras/Hardcastle/Painter)
  • Doug Hardcastle is currently President of the ISD Board and he is running for Oakley City Council. Since 1999/2000, rates at ISD have increased every year on a board he has served on. You can see by viewing the document the pay increases of staff that have also occurred during his time on the Board.
  • You can put Michael Painter in this same category as Hardcastle except he is re-running for the ISD Board.
  • David Contreras was never elected to the ISD Board, he was appointed by executive director Tom Williams on June 7, 2011. During his short time, there have been two rate increases while much of the staff has received pay increases.


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JimSimmons42 Sep 11, 2012 - 8:31 am

Always on the backs of rate payers instead of doing what is right. I would hope people start paying attention to that document, its a real eye opener. This is amazing to me.

Ben Smith Sep 11, 2012 - 8:34 am

I can appreciate you providing the document to actually back up these points. I would hope the CC Times begins asking questions to Ironhouse that they are asking all the firefighters each week. This is more criminal.

Rob Saw Sep 11, 2012 - 8:36 am

Burk kicking ass and taking names.

JAJames304 Sep 11, 2012 - 9:34 am

Vote all incumbants out now! I had no idea this was even occuring. Anyone know the rate increases each year Burk was referring to?

Jason Jackson Sep 11, 2012 - 9:47 am

The math is simple, anyone on the board should not be re-elected. Meadows, Scheer and Burkholder get my vote since none of them currently sit on the board.

Mary romick Sep 11, 2012 - 9:47 am

I see what you are getting at with this post, but without knowing what each of these employees does, it’s hard to gauge wether or not they are justified. I know giving raises on merit and keeping within your allowed budget can prove to be hard and stressful. I wish you had more information as to what everybody does for Ironhouse. I know costs are high, and perhaps changes need to be made, give us more information.

burkforoakley Sep 11, 2012 - 9:52 am

I would love to give you more information, the problem is Ironhouse is not giving the information. They simply provided a poor document on a monthly salary WITHOUT the benefits–meaning “you do the math” is what they told me. They also chose not to include positions of each employee. Here is your annual rate increase since 1999/2000.

99/00: $249
00/01: $258
01/02: $276
02/03: $282
03/04: $291
04/05: $300
05/06: $360
06/07: $412
07/08: $465
08/09: $510
09/10: $542
10/11: $574
11/12: $592
12/13: $618

JimSimmons42 Sep 11, 2012 - 10:12 am


What is so complicated on the justification? Just by looking at the document, you can tell these employees have received raises each year as rates increased. There has been little salary freezes or reductions in staff and its been a healthy District at the expense of the rate increases. Justified or not is in the eye of the beholder, but its hard to disprove this document when it was supplied by Ironhouse. I to would have also liked to see positions of each employee to look more closely at each employee.

Go get em Burk, give them hell!

Mary romick Sep 11, 2012 - 9:58 am

Well then I guess we can’t come to a conclusion on the pay raises. Looking at our increases, it’s astounding how high they have gone. I would love to see the reasoning behind that! Show us why and how they justify these increases.

Jill Thompson 55 Sep 11, 2012 - 10:16 am

I applaud you Burke, something we can agree on. Looking at the document, it fails to provide benefits or positions of employees. They also are forcing a candidate to do all of his/her own math by multiplying everyone by 12.

My second qustion comes to you based off your facebook post which is Tom Williams is blowing you off since May. Can you explain that in more detail please? What are you asking that he wont provide?

Lori Sep 11, 2012 - 10:19 am

It is scary to me that this document only shows straight salary and salary increases. Without the benefits and pensions, ratepayers are on the hook for even more money than being shown in this document. This is the tip of the iceburg, can’t wait for more even if your fire stuff drives me insane.

I am with Jill and Mary, I want more information.

Mary romick Sep 11, 2012 - 10:22 am

I see that Jim, most companies do give some sort of merit increase each year. Yes our costs have risen through the roof and yes, these raises increase with our costs as well. I just want more information on why we have such high increases, they are not solely on the backs of these employees….. That’s all I am saying.

Mary romick Sep 11, 2012 - 10:24 am

Mike, is a P&L statement available? Numbers don’t lie…….

FIXIRONHOUSENOW Sep 11, 2012 - 11:02 am

This is a great start Mike, but there is so much more information available that I am sure you will be putting out as you recieve it. I think someone already said this is the tip of the iceburg, they are right.

The misconception here is that pay raises are the only cause for the rate increase whenthey are just a very small portion of the overall budget. The two are tied together, but there are other high “ticket” items that caused the increases as well WHICH NEED TO BE SHOWN!

I think Mike was spot on in this piece that while the rest of Contra Costa County tightened their belts, Ironhouse continued with business as usual, that is the point!

planner Sep 11, 2012 - 12:12 pm

This appears to be a campaign post for Mr. Burk’s campaign. Perfectly reasonable, but disclosure and compliance with campaign laws would be nice.

EastCountyReader Sep 11, 2012 - 1:25 pm

@ Planner,

Seems to me that Burk simply did a public records request (something that you are very familiar with-eh?) I for one appreciate the genuine effort on his part. IMHO disclosure and compliance are not two of your personal strong points.

Sarah Garcia Sep 11, 2012 - 4:23 pm

Who cares if he is a candidate or not, this is information that should have come out years ago and wish the Contra Costa Times would report on this further. Whether or not if this is political motivated or not is not the issue, I am appalled by the Boards behavior and would like to know what else the District is hiding. To see the rate increases BurkforOakley posted above is really telling this Board does not care about the rate payers. It’s time to vote the Board out Mr. Williams has some explaining to do.

Burkforoakley, can you please explain what Mr. Williams has done to blow you off? I am very curious.

B-wood Sep 11, 2012 - 9:15 pm

Planner, why is everything a conspiracy to you? You need to drop the act.

Julio-Antioch Sep 11, 2012 - 4:02 pm

I believe in this economy VERY FEW employees any where have received merit increases. This is not a responsible use of your funds. Directors as well as manager should be removed.

burks a nerd Mar 27, 2013 - 2:30 pm

Yes the area is impacted by more people more people now and there is a work called inflation. I dont know how smart you are (this guy seems like a smart ass idiot) but prices go up on things and yes rates of pay also need to be increased.

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