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

  1. Waxpils July 2, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

    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?

  2. sierraslugger July 1, 2014 at 8:55 am #

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

  3. Philip Anaya June 30, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    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. There are not enough dollars to spend on Seniors who have limited incomes , ever increasing expenses ,whose retirements were robbed by the economic consequences of the 2007-8 era and are now still found to be working at whatever minimum wage job that they can find. Playing off raises, making our dedicated Inyo County workforce the scapegoat for the budgetary shortfalls does not offer a solution to the cutbacks in services at the Senior Center, the Landfill, the Library ,the Museum.
    There are considerable expenses for the County services for the transient populations that come to Inyo County. We can nickel and dime and tax tourists to death, we could raise the sales tax 1/2 a percent maybe for a limited period of time. We could manipulate the DWP into paying for this or that, a solar blight or two but that would scar the land and rob the future budgets of needed revenue to provide County services. There is a need for additional revenues . “Service Redesign” is incomplete without a plan for a few more million . There is no dedicated Grant Department, no Development Department in the County to seek, to guide, to exploit the dollars available from the Feds ,the State and the private sector . Every Department Head should have at least one or two Grant applications in the oven at all times. There should be a much greater effort seeking funds as there is with “Service Redesign” cutbacks. Not every Department Head has the ability to generate revenues but there should be an investment into a Grant Department, into Grant Writers and Grant Managers that can benefit the budget even if it is short term.
    All of the finger pointing is not going to resolve much. People like the Head Librarian who will donate salary back too the county, Community efforts like this past weekends’ spaghetti fundraiser ,these are ideas that will build Shelters and enrich our minds, our Valley. Let’s not debate whether County workers or finger point who’s to blame, let’s find some solutions. The CAO needs to hear many ideas, needs to sort out proper priorities that we are telling him and needs to give the Supes options and needs to address resources that can find a few million bucks.

    • Good Point July 1, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

      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 many facets, grant writing should definitely be one of them.

  4. Buck Turgidson June 30, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    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 time as a stopgap to maintain service levels at the museum and library.

  5. Joe June 30, 2014 at 7:43 am #

    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 the status of the proposed county building?

  6. Shock and Awe June 29, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

    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 went through. These Supervisors are smart people. Maybe they didn’t get the whole story from the CAO? That is the only excuse that I can think of that might excuse their actions. If that was the case, then they need to get another CAO.

    Did any of our leaders think of what happens during their “service redesign” when somebody from the County is laid off? When those people don’t have a pay check, they quit contributing to Inyo’s economy. There is a ripple effect. Wasn’t it a better plan to keep people working, even if the pay was a little lower than it should be until the economy improved? None of this makes any sense at all.

  7. Shock and Awe June 29, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

    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 and Museum? I am waiting for the real plan, because if this is it, the guy needs to go. People in the real world would be bankrupt if they adopted the Inyo County’s “plan”.

  8. resident June 29, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

    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 June 30, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

      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 to the issue. While there is nothing that can be done about the pay raises, there are both political and practical responses to expressing displeasure with Supervisors’ decisions.

      You can let the Supervisors know directly how you feel by calling or emailing them. You can ask for a personal meeting or a public meeting. You can questions and recommend reasonable suggestions that contribute towards a solution rather than muddying up the water with unfounded rumors. And finally, you can thank god that you are not in their shoes. These are hard times economically and politically.

  9. Tom June 29, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

    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 it. Thank you!

  10. Lowly County Employee June 29, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

    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 business and perhaps operate like a business. It’s 2014 and times are tough so let’s get away from doing things the way they have always been done and start getting more streamlined in how we do things. It never would have happened if there wasn’t a target. So, I applaud all those who decided that County employees were worth COLA’s. Change can be a good thing.

    • Bob June 30, 2014 at 9:33 am #

      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 July 1, 2014 at 9:39 pm #

        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 July 2, 2014 at 9:37 am #

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

          • Pedro July 2, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

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

  11. Trouble June 29, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

    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.

  12. Reality -/ June 29, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

    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 up with “statistics” about employees / citizen, maybe little more time on budgeting rather than statistics.

  13. After the fact June 29, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    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 stand, and at that point decide if raises are viable. That isn’t rocket science, it is living within a budget!

    • Really? June 30, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

      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 into debt. There is no consequence to them personally. If this was their personally owned business, they would never even consider what they did.

      Perhaps you should add one more question to the BOS and CAO. If the same situation existed in your own business, would you give the raises? If so, how would you pay for it without additional revenue.


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