Why did Inyo Board OK raises they couldn’t pay for?

inyosups4_15Why did the Inyo Supervisors vote for raises that added up to $2 million without the money to pay for them? That’s the puzzler for many people as the Board and Administrator drag through cuts that sharply offend citizens and Department heads. Sierra Wave Media talked to four supervisors about why they okayed raises without the money to back them up.

Matt Kingsley said he supports the raises because “employees had not had pay raises in 6 to 8 years and it would be unfair not to give them raises.” It was actually 4 years since workers received cost of living adjustments. Kingsley also supported the equity adjustment raises that he says made pay and work done more fair.

What about not being able to pay for these raises? Kingsley said, “I feel we can pay for it. We spend more out of the General Fund on senior citizens than other counties. It’s not fair to do this on the employees’ backs.” He also said Inyo was spending more on landfills than other counties. As for potential Library and Museum cuts, Kingsley said those departments have been through ups and downs before.

What about Administrator Kevin Carunchio who seems antagonistic to some department heads that he has surprised with proposed cuts? Kingsley replied, “Kevin said we would have tough times paying for the raises, but we can do it.”

Supervisor Jeff Griffiths said the equity adjustment raises were well underway when the new Board took their seats. He said they negotiated hard with the union. Said Griffiths, “We did these things with full knowledge that the money was not there to pay for it.” He believes the time has come to change County government since it has long been true that revenue is flat and expenses are forever going up. “Many counties have downsized and laid off,” he said. “We’re catching up with reality.” He said the raises are about a “fairness issue” and about well-motivated workers.

Griffiths believes in Service Redesign, but said it has had mixed success. He said, “We need to create better government.” Griffiths said the Board will look to the CAO for a plan going forward. He admitted the Board contributed to the problem with the raises, but he called it a “calculated decision. We can retain and attract good workers to do more work.” Griffiths said the Board could have played hard ball with employees and given no contract. Asked if the Board could have given employees something in between $2 million and nothing, Griffiths said, “The $2 million was the in-between amount.”

Griffiths brought up a statistic that says Inyo County has one county employee for every 40 citizens. Maybe too many. He said, “We want to treat employees well but be fair to the taxpayers.” Griffiths added that “Services to the people are a higher priority than the number of employees Inyo County has.” He continued, “If we can provide the same level of services more efficiently with fewer employees, that is the best use of taxpayer dollars and will get service to the people who need it.”

On later postings, we will hear from Supervisors Mark Tillemans and Rick Pucci.

 

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Waxpils
Waxpils
8 years ago

If we the citizens of Inyo county voted for these people, can’t we the people get new people to replace the entire Board? Any up for impeachment?

sierraslugger
sierraslugger
8 years ago

What do you mean were out of money, We still have checks!!!!!

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago

The budget is the responsibility of the Chief Administrative Officer. Kevin Carunchio is well aware of that . A ratio of public employees to population might not be a valid parameter as we should also factor in the geographic demographic of the numbers of public employees to the square mile.… Read more »

Good Point
Good Point
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

I’m a bit surprised Inyo County does not have any grant writers. The Bishop Paiute Tribe has really leveraged grant money over the past decade and David Grah at the City of Bishop has done a good job getting money for Public Works projects. While the solution will likely have… Read more »

Buck Turgidson
Buck Turgidson
8 years ago

If that is true, that raises were predicated on a one time payment from DWP, well that’s just bush league. No professional would count on one time money for raises. But, that does make it seem like the Board and CAO might dip into reserves for a short period of… Read more »

Joe
Joe
8 years ago

The board needs to look at each county dept from the top down and look for ways to save, not spend. When employees retire, don’t rehire for that position. Use more floating employees that can go from dept to dept to cover the seasonal work load as needed. What is… Read more »

Shock and Awe
Shock and Awe
8 years ago

I think “resident” may be right. I think the CAO was counting on that 4.5 million dollars from the solar farm. Bad bet. If the Supervisors had known that was what was supposed to pay for these raises, then shame on them for not waiting to see if the project… Read more »

Shock and Awe
Shock and Awe
8 years ago

I am speechless. This was absolutely one of the most disturbing articles I have ever read about county leadership. And, this takes the cake: “Kevin said we would have tough times paying for the raises, but we can do it.” Really? How? Cut Senior Meals, close dumps, gut the Library… Read more »

resident
resident
8 years ago

Rumor says that the CAO was counting on the revenue from the DWP solar farm to pay for the raises. Why they did this is still the big question. Service redesign, more effective government, is a good idea but I think someone else should be leading the redesign.

Charles James
Charles James
8 years ago
Reply to  resident

Think about it. Given what happened with Brightsource, why would the County CAO be counting on revenue from the SOVSR? This rumor makes no sense on the face of it. Demand and deal with FACTS. Don’t waste valuable time on phantom arguments stemming from rumors that contribute nothing of value… Read more »

Tom
Tom
8 years ago

We need a well motivated workforce. To do that takes adequate pay, I stand behind you board and Administartion, keep up the good work! Most nay sayers will post here, but many of us believe in what you are doing. If you have to reduce or redirect services, so be… Read more »

Lowly County Employee
Lowly County Employee
8 years ago

It’s about time the Supervisors stand up for the County employees. There are lots of hard working folks who deserved those pay increases. And now the folks at the top (as Bennett calls them “sharply offended Department Heads”) need to start looking at the ways that the County does it’s… Read more »

Bob
Bob
8 years ago

Lowly County Employee – You don’t need a raise, find another job, as a tax payer I’ve had it with your whining. I would take your job and a 15% cut in pay in a heart beat.

Pedro
Pedro
8 years ago
Reply to  Bob

Ya Bob, if you could do the job, you would already have it. As a taxpayer, I don’t want to pay you 15% less to get 40% of the job done.

Bob
Bob
8 years ago
Reply to  Pedro

Nice insult but probably not close to accurate. One pretty much just has to have a pulse to be a county employee.

Pedro
Pedro
8 years ago
Reply to  Bob

That explains why you don’t have the job you would take in a heartbeat? Your resume must be bleak indeed.

Trouble
Trouble
8 years ago

I say good for them. 99% of us need raises and deserve cost of living increases at the very least. If your going to raise taxes , do it to the owners of all these tourist traps up here. Some of these local owners act like their Walt Disney.

Reality -/
Reality -/
8 years ago

Griffith said, ” We did these things will full knowledge that the money was not there to pay for these things”. What is wrong with him and the rest of the BOS. That is why there is no moey in the first place. Sounds like Griffith is great at coming… Read more »

After the fact
After the fact
8 years ago

Carunchio’s plan was to give raises and figure out how to pay for them later???? Really wow! I can think of one way to save money. Get rid of him and get someone that actually knows that you do the cost saving measures first, bank the savings, see where you… Read more »

Really?
Really?
8 years ago
Reply to  After the fact

Oops, correct story this time. Benett, Thanks so much for giving this incredible insight into how our elected officials think. It is nothing short of amazing. I think I see the disconnect with the people. When they are talking about spending other people’s tax money, it is easy to go… Read more »