Mountain View Voice

News - May 28, 2010

Police give up pay raises for a year

Union raises cost city $2.7 million last year

by Daniel DeBolt

With just a few weeks left to patch a $4.3 million general fund deficit, the city's police have agreed to go without regular pay raises next year.

Unfortunately the agreement with police does little to lower this year's projected $4.3 million budget deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1, because city officials had been assuming police would go without raises after their contract expired in June.

Police agreed to extend their current contract another year without the annual raise, called a cost of living adjustment. Over the last two years, police have received the raise, which is worth 3.2 percent of their salaries. That would cost the city about $560,000 to do again this year, said assistant city manager Nadine Levin.

If the city's three other unions follow the example of police and forgo the cost of living increases, the city would save another $1.46 million, Levin said.

Last year, all city employees except department heads received raises worth $2.7 million, including cost of living adjustments, merit pay for good performance and "step" increases in pay based on years worked.

So far, the agreement with police appears to be the biggest concession to come from one of the city's four unions in talks to reduce the growth of employee compensation costs. On May 4, John Miguel, president of the firefighters association, said his union was not considering a complete elimination of pay raises, but a reduction worth $1 million in savings to the city over the next two years. He said he hoped to prevent cuts to city services and employee layoffs.

Since their contracts are not expiring, the city's other three unions, including the Eagles and the SEIU, are being asked to make concessions that are purely voluntary.

"We are still in conversation with all groups in how we can achieve that $1 million," Levin said.

As part of a "three-pronged approach" to fixing the $4.3 million deficit, the city is hoping to get $1 million in savings by reducing the growth of employee compensation costs, $1.2 million from service fee hikes and $2 million from other budget cuts.

Employee compensation costs are 80 percent of the city budget. Because of pay raises and increasingly expensive pensions and health care benefits, these costs have risen by almost $4 million a year at a time when tax revenue has remained relatively flat, although it is now starting to recover.

The clock is counting down to a June 8 meeting where the City Council will be presented with the best plan possible for employee salary savings that is acceptable to the city manager's office and union leaders.

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

Comments

Posted by Taxpayer, a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 27, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Good for the police - and shame on the other unions.

Let's be clear - unlike lots of Mountain View residents who have lost jobs or seen their pay cut over the past 2 years, no Mountain View employees have been laid off and there have been no pay cuts.

In fact, the article points out that they received RAISES - plus of course they get better health care and pensions than almost any resident.

Mountain View residents are doing their part - including paying more fees. City employees need to do their share and agree to no raises this year.


Posted by Will Joseph, a resident of Shoreline West
on May 27, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Freeze the pay for the others too. If they want to strike, let them; the city will save a bundle while they're off.


Posted by Sad, a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 29, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Amazing how the city spins this to make it look like the employees fault. As a resident and working in the provate industry their compensation packages are no different then ours just with different titles. I hate to see employees lose anythings which could cause them to transfer or move elsewhere. Those jobs are everywhere and there will always be a need for fire fighters, police officers, public works crews and so forth. The strange thing is how the city says there is this hugh budget gap they need the employees to fix. How about reducing the number of touchy feel programs that only benefit a handful of people (some not even residents). It is hard to support the city on this employee issue when in the same week we read about spendings to buy property or other expensive items. They say those funds can not be moved. Yes, they can...it is a hugh shell game that the top are not willing to play with. Sad.


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