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County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry gets a contract extension, and a pay cut
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County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry gets a contract extension, and a pay cut

Chuck Huckelberry

Chuck Huckelberry, Pima County administrator

The Pima County Board of Supervisors have approved a four-year contract extension for County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, but will reduce his base salary to $292,000 annually.

Huckelberry has served as the county administrator for the last 25 years and previously made a base salary of $301,104. The board voted 4-1 Tuesday to extend his contract through Jan. 7, 2025, but ultimately denied his request for a $14,000 raise, citing concerns that it would be inappropriate to increase the salary of the county’s highest paid employee amid the current crisis.

In addition to reduced pay, the revised contract also says that any future salary increases would be based on evaluations as determined by the board. Even with a reduction in base pay, Huckelberry is still the highest-paid county administrator in the state.

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Several board members expressed support for Huckelberry’s contract extension, pointing to his “extensive, almost encyclopedic, knowledge” of county government and its operation.

“A significant reason for this decision on my part is Mr. Huckelberry’s record of service and achievement throughout all the years he’s worked for Pima County, not just as the administrator,” said District 1 Supervisor Rex Scott. “He also manifests many of the traits of a true civic leader.”

While Scott praised Huckelberry for his direct role in stabilizing the county’s budget and for taking the lead on many issues deemed important by the community, including roads, conservation and justice reform, the supervisor said he still had some concerns.

“As a new supervisor, it is very troubling to me that so many of our employees do not see Pima County as a caring, supportive and positive place to work. Many of these employees place much of the blame at the feet of Mr. Huckelberry and his team. Their concerns must and will be addressed.”

Several board members agreed, however, that the supervisors should also be held accountable for the administrator’s performance, as he reports to them.

Supervisor Steve Christy, the only dissenting vote, voiced his disappointment in Huckelberry’s leadership, specifically citing his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and calling his implementation of countywide regulations an “assault on local businesses.”

“This would have been an ideal opportunity for Mr. Huckelberry to take his farewell as county administrator,” Christy said. “As they say in the theatre, all good actors should know when it’s time to leave the stage. Today should have been that exit.”

The board will revise and officially ratify Huckelberry’s contract at a later date. In addition to his base salary, his contract entitles him to a number of other financial benefits, which include a $550 monthly vehicle allowance, paid health insurance, at least three weeks of sick and vacation time, $26,000 toward the state retirement plan every year and $15,000 toward a supplemental retirement plan.

Contact reporter Jasmine Demers at jdemers@tucson.com.


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