Mono county government expenses questioned

What’s happening in Mono County?
By Tim Fesko,

Mono County is finally seeing (feeling) that they must do something to rein in costs, mainly wages! So
this month I will be discussing the topic of At-Will employees (Exempt & management) and the regular
public employees as this is currently the hot topic.

At-will employees are typically in a management or department head position, even though there are
others. These employees each have their own contracts and what they do have in common are the high
dollar salaries including benefits (i.e. perks) as outlined in the At-Will Employees Compensation Policy.

From information in public records, these salaries range from ~$80,000 – $175,000+ per year, not
including benefits. And for some this includes “Performance Pay” upwards to 5% of base salary. Per the
Policy they are guaranteed yearly pay increases (minimum of 2%), paid “Administration leave” and car
allowances upwards to $10,000/year. These contracts are written to protect the employee and do not
allow the County any power to reduce or freeze pay during their contract period. Does anyone really
read and understand these contracts? Why would this ever be allowed?

Currently the County is conducting “behind closed door negotiations” with unions and associations. The
County side is usually made up of the CAO, Finance Director, County Counsel and some Supervisors.
Now this is usually the case even when the “other side” is management (conflict of interest?). When can
the public comment and have its comments taken seriously?

The talk going around just about anywhere these days is that the County is demanding that the public
employees give up a lot. Such as: a 10% pay cut, furlough days, no step increases, no cost of living
adjustments and the County is only willing to do a one year contract.

What seems quite interesting and maybe “not quite fair” is that the “rank and file” are being demanded
to give up quite a bit while management is not. Recent contracts even show pay increases!

Now if the County was serious about cutting expenses, why are they looking only at the lower ranks?
Why is someone making upwards to $175,000 able to drive a County car to and from home, or given a
car allowance?

Want to save money? Remove car allowances, save $140,000+; remove “Administrative leave”, save
$100,000+; reduce At-Will salary by 10%, save $250,000+. These are savings EACH YEAR!

So the final question is, “When is fair, Fair?”

To view contracts, policy and more, visit

Note: This column is written in early February in order to make publishing deadlines. Final negotiated
figures may differ from those quoted here.

6 Responses to Mono county government expenses questioned

  1. Mountain Watchdog March 21, 2016 at 8:03 am #

    I’m reminded of a time not long ago when the Mono supes reduced salaries of all at-will people but left their quite generous part-time salaries intact … “for the good of the county.”

  2. Steve P. March 17, 2016 at 3:36 pm #

    and again … I gather you are a union-protected, civil service protected employee, correct? I don’t doubt you have had to give up bennies, etc., in these tough times. But … your employment is very different than being at will — you can’t be fired “for any reason” unlike those at will. That simple distinction is HUGE … you have much greater everyday job security than those at will, which should result in a disparity in compensation. Further, many at will employees, when told they are being let go, are allowed to “resign” instead, which is why you don’t hear about these incidents.

    • and again March 21, 2016 at 7:28 am #

      It’s Mono County, everyone knows everything. You must be new.

  3. and again March 16, 2016 at 8:40 am #

    Steve, Non at will employees have already given until they can give no more. No raise or cost of living increase for almost 7 years, furlough days, for the last two. Employees leaving in record numbers so that those left behind are doing the work of three people. It is high time that upper management gives a little. You say they get more because they can be let go easier. I have worked for the county for 13 years and have NEVER heard of anyone at will getting let go. Contracts not being renewed, yes, but let go absolutely not.

    • Steve P. March 18, 2016 at 11:38 am #

      and again … a simple question: If the county were to come to you and say, “We want you to give up your civil service rights and go at-will” — would you give up those rights for free, or negotiate for additional compensation?

  4. Steve P. March 15, 2016 at 8:27 am #

    Tim — one question for you — why do you think at-will employees have higher compensation packages than non-at-will/union-represented/civil-service protected employees? Because, obviously, their employment is “at will” — I.e., their employment is at much much higher risk of being terminated at ANY time, for ANY reason (unlike civil service protected employees, who, as we all know, have many many more rights if termination is sought by the county). The county has compensated the at-will folks more because it is much much easier to fire them, unlike the civil service folks. So, when you go after the at-will folks for their compensation, and compare/contrast what the at-will folks are getting to the civil service employees, you are comparing apples to oranges, and being unfair in the process to the at-will people.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.