County employee pay increases mandated

Another View
By: Jim Holmes, Placer County Supervisor, District 3
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In response to the recent press coverage of raises for Placer County employees I wish to provide some additional information. The county work force consists of 2,476 full-time employees providing a range of services to approximately 350,000 residents. Over the past two years the county has restricted hiring and has only filled critical positions as vacancies occur. We have reduced our workforce by some 231 positions. The Placer County workforce composition is broken down as follows: Management and Confidential: 321 employees consisting of managers and clerical serving in sensitive areas or dealing with confidential information. These employees are not represented by a labor organization. Placer County Deputy Sheriffs Association Represented (DSA): approximately 226 employees including deputies, welfare fraud investigators and district attorney investigators. Placer Public Employee Organization Represented (PPEO): 1,924 general and professional employees who provide direct services in various departments. Recent labor adjustments Earlier this year, the County Executive Officer (CEO) held a series of meetings with the unrepresented management and confidential employees to solicit suggestions to address an anticipated budget shortfall in excess of $18 million in fiscal year 2009/10. Among other cost-saving measures, one outcome was to recommend 12 unpaid furlough days during the fiscal year in order to achieve approximately 5 percent payroll budget savings. In addition, it was recommended that a cost of living increase would be reduced to 2.5 percent from the agreed upon 2.5 to 5 percent rate. It is important to note that the County Executive Office took the lead and recommended to the board the furlough days and other labor concessions prior to the proposal being taken to the members of the PPEO for consideration. PPEO’s union membership voted over 60 percent to accept the proposal in order to avoid layoffs The combined management, confidential and PPEO represented employees’ labor concessions will save Placer County taxpayers over $6.7 million in fiscal 2009-10 and preserve at least 150 jobs. More importantly, the county will be able to continue to provide the high level of programs and services to our community. Law enforcement personnel represented by the DSA receive annual salary increases mandated by the voter-approved Measure F. Salaries are determined based on the average salaries of law enforcement personnel in. In February Placer County law enforcement personnel received raises ranging from 5.58 percent to 7.33 percent. The Board of Supervisors has no authority to deny, adjust or delay Measure F raises, they can only approve them. Due to the unique nature of their business and the 24/7 coverage requirements to provide public safety services to our constituents, deputy sheriff classifications are exempt from taking the furlough days. The performance-based step increases that were recently discussed in the Auburn Journal went to managers in keeping with the Civil Service System parameters and County Code requirements. All employees, including PPEO and DSA represented, receive a limited number of step increases over a series of years upon successful completion of a performance evaluation. In keeping with county requirements, PPEO and DSA performance-based step increases are approved by the Civil Service Commission instead of the Board of Supervisors. According to the Personnel Department roughly 760 of these step increases were approved by the Civil Service Commission for represented employees during the 2008-2009 fiscal year. Many long-time county employees have reached the top steps of their classification and are no longer eligible for these increases, however, they will be eligible for approved general wage increases. I can assure the citizens of Placer County that the board remains dedicated to following sound public policy to strike a balance between the continuation of providing critical programs and services to the Placer County community while working within constrained fiscal circumstances.