Inyo Supervisors: two more on pay raises and debt

inyosups4_15A question on the mind of Inyo citizens – Why did the Supervisors approve $2 million in pay hikes without the money to cover it?

Now we go on to two more Supervisors – Mark Tillemans and Rick Pucci. We have already reported on comments from Matt Kingsley and Jeff Griffiths. Those comments are now on our website.

Tillemans said all of the Supervisors supported the pay raises. He said, “It’s something I campaigned on since there were no cost of living adjustments since 2009. He said there was also a hard health care cap, meaning employees had to pay for premium raises above the cap. Tillemans said, “Employees need to be paid what they are worth.” He said Inyo is in a structural deficit with more expensive mandates coming from the California Air Resources Board.

The Supervisor said regardless of the raises given, there needs to be the “right-sizing of government and over time inefficiencies need to be eliminated. As a new Supervisor,” he said, “I need to find a better way.” Tillemans said it’s not time for layoffs yet and still time for “great, creative things out of Service Redesign.” He pointed to what could be a big savings in the new contract for Town Water Systems, and he said, “People need to be paid what they are worth. I stand behind paying them what they deserve. I’m proud of it.”

Tillemans said during bargaining, the unions “negotiated tough. They got 2% raises each for the next three years.” Some also got equity adjustments. He said, “Raises were the right thing to do. We can pay for it with re-organization.” He did say he would push to keep the Museum open 7 days per week. He said the dump situation “is tough.” Said Tillemans, “I have to be objective and make good judgments.”

We talked finally with Supervisor Chairman Rick Pucci, who said the question of why the Board approved $2 million in raises without the dollars to pay for them is not a difficult question. He said, “We can’t run the County on what we should be paying employees.” He said they had gone several years without raises, and the equity study had been around a number of years. Department heads said some positions were out of line, said Pucci. He said from a professional standard, “there has to be an amount we pay them to get employees.” Said the Board Chairman, “The issue is we have to find the money. In the long run, we may have fewer employees and we may have to delay capital improvements.”

Pucci, who had run the City of Bishop for 30 years, said, “We need to learn how to run government in a more cost effective way. The most expensive thing is salaries of people who provide services.” He said there have been tremendous changes – health insurance costs and changes in retirement plans. Pucci said employees can’t afford paying for all increases in health care costs. He said, “You have to pay employees the appropriate amount. Why? If you don’t,” he said, “you will end up with good employees leaving, and it costs money to train people.”

Will Inyo County have to operate differently? “Yes,” said Pucci. “The world has changed. My theory,” he said, “is that the public sector should do what the private sector can’t or won’t do.” He thinks in the long run, local government will look better after this economic experience. Said the Board Chairman, “I feel privileged to work with a Board trying to make it work. Maybe through attrition we will have fewer people. The bottom line is to find the best way to get the job done.”

, , ,

9 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
County as a whole
County as a whole
8 years ago

You know there is one thing that I believe is being passed over…. every Inyo county employee is also a citizen that lives in the county and they use the resources that are having hours shortened or other changes. Even though they deserve a raise like most of us do…… Read more »

good idea
good idea
8 years ago

Charles, I really like your idea of telling the employee unions that no raises would be made until there was money to pay for them. While it is too late in this circumstance, perhaps we can expand on this idea. The everyday and hard-working employees often see the waste of… Read more »

Elimus
Elimus
8 years ago

Why wouldn’t it be a good idea at this point to go back to the Union and open up negotiations again? With the loss of services and potential lay-offs for County employees, it seems like the right thing to do. And, you would hope that the Union leaders would not… Read more »

Charles James
Charles James
8 years ago

Benett, It doesn’t seem that in the “Comments Section” the public is “buying” the idea of going into further debt without first knowing exactly where the money will come from first. Perhaps that would have taken an extra month or so of the Supervisors and CAO’s time…but really, after four… Read more »

Trouble
Trouble
8 years ago

It’s funny how when I was growing up you heard politicians claimer on and on about inflation and cost of living percentages. I can’t remember the last time I heard the word inflation out of one of those jokers on either side of the wall. Anyway, no matter who you… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Trouble

Trouble: Watch your step. Your boss can fire you and replace you with someone who will work for less. The inflation you sense is mostly wage deflation.

Trouble
Trouble
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Ken- I can honestly say I never heard of wage deflation before today. Freak n more trickle down bull going around. Sort of like all that kick ball crap they are trying to shove down our throats lately.

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Trouble

Trouble: [heh] Kickball. That’s about right. I called it wage deflation. It’s frequently referred to as inflation adjusted real wages or wage disparity. There’s plenty of information about it on the web. The idea is that the lower and middle income people have seen almost no wage growth in decades… Read more »

sugar magnolia
sugar magnolia
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

I never heard of wage deflation either…but I can see that is happening in some industries for sure. But to say inflation isn’t happening definitely isn’t correct. I know, food doesn’t count in the true inflation calculations, but guess what, food costs are a big part of my budget…and many… Read more »