Letter to the editor: Salaries out of touch?

MONO COURTHOUSE

Submitted by Mono Supervisor Larry Johnston

This past Tuesday, the Mono County Board of Supervisors approved renewal of seven management employee contracts costing $1,372,220 (average $196,031 each).  The lowest cost contract is $158,193, the highest is $241,667.  The salary portion of these contracts is $809,868 (average $115,695 or $9,641/mo.).  The benefits/retirement cost is $562,352 (average $80,336 each).  Two of these seven contracts received raises, five had no increase.

The Board vote was 4 to 1 with me being the dissenting vote.  The principal reason for my dissent is the same as it has been for the last year regarding management contracts when they have come before the Board, and that is, the contracts are out of touch with the reality of the economy.  As an example, the non-salary portion of the contract ($80,336) is by itself higher than Mono County’s Area Median Income ($74,500 for a family of four).

While it is important in recruiting and maintaining good employees (and we do have good employees at all levels in the organization), the pendulum of exponentially increasing salaries and benefits has swung too far.  For example, in the January 2012 management salary survey (which surveyed 23 other counties), salaries have decreased 5% overall, employees have been laid off, and/or positions have been consolidated in these surveyed counties.

For the seven contracts (and the previous management contracts that have come up periodically during the last year), I have attempted to tackle the “swinging pendulum” with suggested contract amendments that would both protect the employee from potentially draconian salary decreases while bringing benefits into rational alignment with limited resources and public sentiment.  These amendments are:

“Salary shall be increased or decreased in accordance with the management compensation policy; any decrease shall not be more than 2% yearly.”
(Presently, contracts only allow increases in pay; a one-way street.  The 2% cap helps protect the employee from draconian decreases.  Note no decrease is actually proposed.)
“The 5% ‘merit pay’ shall be phased out in 12 equal reductions over 12 months.”
(‘Merit pay’ is over and above the normal salary.  While union employees have agreed to no step increases in their contracts to help see us through bad economic times, 5% “merit pay” continues for about 70% of management staff.)
“The management car allowance (currently $781/month, raised recently from $704/mo) shall be phased out in 12 equal reductions over 12 months.  Like other employees, an un-assigned pool car shall be used to conduct county business.  If a car has been assigned to an employee, such usage shall cease and an un-assigned pool car shall be used to conduct county business (public safety exempted).”
(Car allowance is unnecessary to conduct business since pool cars are available. Present contract wording also allows for personal commuting, and even out-of-county commuting, in assigned vehicles.  Additionally, there is an automatic adjustment in the car allowance, usually upward, based on the cost of gas, etc.  While most regular employees get to work at their own cost, management’s commuting is completely paid ad infinitum by taxpayers.)

Unfortunately, these amendments were not voted to be included in these contracts and so the exponentially increasing pendulum continues to swing. There are other concerns related to these contracts (such as why several contracts were pushed up many months from their normal due date, even before budget consideration in August) which I addressed at the Board meeting.

I remain committed to frugal and efficient government and will continue the effort to help advance public service as a well-respected endeavor.

Larry Johnston
Supervisor, District 1

18 Comments
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NewEra
NewEra
10 years ago

Can’t play fat cat anymore! We demand production!!

Rob
Rob
10 years ago

Local government jobs are the best jobs in Inyo & Mono Counties. Then if you’re lucky enough to be put in a position of double dipping you’re really living high on the hog.

It’s all complete BS

Anonymous
Anonymous
10 years ago

Mr. Berrey,
Sounds like your comments against County Counsel Marshall Rudolph are more sour grapes than anything else.

2rude
2rude
10 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

No; I just don’t think the taxpayers should pay for the private club dues of a county official who makes more than $150,000+ per year, especially when that perk is not provided for non-management employees. Do you think that is OK? If so, why, Mr./Mrs. Anonymous? Thanks. P.S. Not sour… Read more »

Rob
Rob
10 years ago
Reply to  2rude

“$180,000K well-drilling contract without going out to bid”

That should be a matter of public record now. Benett?

Inyoite
Inyoite
10 years ago
Reply to  2rude

I think you just outed your sock-puppet, Mr. Berrey.

allen berrey
allen berrey
10 years ago
Reply to  Inyoite

C’est la vie. I felt a little cowardly using it anyway. Thanks.

Dennis Kostecki
Dennis Kostecki
10 years ago

Mr. Johnston, At the risk of appearing redundant, with over 20 years as a former employee and then manager of an international corporation, I must take serious issue with: “An employee of an organization versus an organization leader are two different roles” I must state Mr. Johnston, managers ARE organizational… Read more »

allen berrey
allen berrey
10 years ago

Larry: Nice try; but it’s hard to get pigs at a trough to stop eating. Why don’t you see if your comrades will at least repeal the Mono County resolution by which the public pays for County Counsel Marshall Rudolph’s Rotary Club dues? Thanks.

Kostecki, D
Kostecki, D
10 years ago

What was not mentioned in the supervisor’s brazen letters to the editor was the fact that this supervisor for some number of years enjoyed the very same “out-of-touch salary” and “auto perks” (that I understand he still maintains but has not refused or returned). What was also not mentioned is… Read more »

Bill
Bill
10 years ago
Reply to  Kostecki, D

Yep! Pot calling the kettle black, that Larry Johnston. He now double dips w/ a high paying Supervisor Salary and benefits on top of his County retirement. And before any more tea baggers scream support of his tirade you should learn a little about what County Dept Heads actually do… Read more »

Larry Johnston
Larry Johnston
10 years ago
Reply to  Bill

Mr. Kostecki, et.al., An employee of an organization versus an organization leader are two different roles. Since I took office in January, 2011, I have voluntarily refused 25% of the car allowance, have never requested County reibursement for out-of-county travel or per diem (note: current policy allows 55 cents per… Read more »

Dennis Kostecki
Dennis Kostecki
10 years ago
Reply to  Larry Johnston

Mr. Johnston, I would respectfully say that perhaps a better way to “lead by example” (if I understand your agenda correctly) would be to refuse the remaining 75% of the car allowance you abhor and are lobbying so aggressively against, plus at least a 10% reimbursement to the taxpayer of… Read more »

NewEra
NewEra
10 years ago
Reply to  Larry Johnston

Yeah Sure lead by example after the fact, I like the precedent you set, but clearly is not enough!!

Home girl
Home girl
10 years ago

KUDOS to Supervisor Johnston. It is never easy to stand alone. It takes pure bravery to stand for what is right. I admire your backbone, I admire that you are not a YES man. CLAP, CLAP, CLAP, CLAP.

P&B
P&B
10 years ago

Interesting that board member Johnston is beafing about something he eagerly participated in when he was the Assistant Community Development Director for Mono County. In fact he would ride along with others to meetings so he wouldn’t use his car or burn his own gas – what a hypocritical diatribe……

Jerry Spindler
Jerry Spindler
10 years ago

This has been long in coming. I’ve heard similar dialog from Tim Fesco (candidate for Supervisor, District 4). Common sense and logic seems to be trumped by something else. I would’nt accuse anyone of making their decisions based on the “good old boys society” premise or simply taking the easy… Read more »

mammothgal
mammothgal
10 years ago

Thank you Supervisor Johnston for saying what needed to be said. As Mono County taxpayers we should reexamine all our expenses and assumptions in our still fragile economy. None of us in the private sector have nearly the benefits that have been reported here. The car allowance in particular is… Read more »