Directors of the El Dorado Irrigation District voted 4-1 on Monday to grant the general manager and general counsel pay raises.
General Manager James Abercrombie's $165,000 salary was increased 5 percent to $173,250, effective immediately, district spokeswoman Mary Lynn Carlton said in an email.
On Jan. 1, Abercrombie will receive another 1 percent cost-of-living increase, in line with increases available to much of the district's workforce.
In addition, district directors granted General Counsel Thomas Cumpston a 3.8 percent increase, boosting his salary to $166,504 immediately. Cumpston also will receive a 1 percent pay increase on Jan. 1.
Only Director Alan Day voted against the proposal, Carlton said.
Director George Osborne, who was elected board president at Monday's meeting, was among several directors who said Abercrombie and Cumpston were doing great jobs and deserved the increase in compensation, Carlton said.
Former district director Harry Norris was the only member of the public to speak about the raise and he said he favored the plan.
Norris lost his director's seat a year ago to challenger Day amid charges that the district had overspent and was raising rates too quickly.
Day told The Bee after the meeting that other members of the public might have addressed the board about the pay plans but "the meeting dragged on and we had to go into closed session."
The pay raise proposal, the last item on the agenda, was decided in the afternoon.
Day said he opposed the pay raises because of the district's health and pension costs, hefty water and sewer rate increases and the fact that ratepayers also pay $8 million to $10 million a year in property taxes to the district.
In recent years the board has approved multiple water rate increases.
As a result, water rates are in the process of doubling from early 2010 through early 2015. Sewer rates are headed about 70 percent higher for the same period.
A major share of the rate increases is to service debt on more than $300 million in bonds to finance delayed upgrades for water and sewer systems and state and federal unfunded mandates.
"Now the board is passing out raises," Day said, "and I just don't understand it."
"It's the wrong time, the wrong message," he added. "And it's the wrong thing to do, given the EID's finances with the rate increases and the debt we're in."
Last March, Day was the only director to oppose the latest multiyear rate hikes for district customers.