The supervisors made the call in a special meeting and plan to hold another one Friday to discuss the concessions with the law enforcement managers again. Supervisor Margie Barrios was not at the Wednesday morning meeting because she was in Sacramento on county business, leaving the four supervisors present in a 2-2 deadlock on two motions.
The discussion and reductions were the latest in a string of painful talks on cuts to fill a $5.3 million deficit in the general fund, which totals about $33 million.
The supervisors first discussed the concessions with the management employees group.
The management employees group, which is not a union but an association, agreed to pay 4 percent toward their retirement fund; to take 15 furlough days between July 1 and June 30 and to keep step freezes in effect for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
Employees of departments that are not paid out of the general fund are exempt from taking the furloughs, even if they are part of the group.
The group did not agree to a cap on vacation accrual, but Jacki Credico, a human resource analyst, said officials would revisit the matter in the fall. The concessions were expected to save the county between $196,000 and $235,000, a number Credico calculated. Nadine DaRoza, the president of MEG, said the number had decreased with retirements and layoffs.
Deputy District Attorney Patrick Palacios, who has been outspoken against cuts to the district attorney’s office throughout budget discussions at board meetings in recent months, spoke out against the agreement.
“I sent a letter to MEG, Jacki (Credico) and (Rich) Inman (county administrative officer) on behalf of myself and two other deputy district attorneys,” Palacios said during the public comment period. “I was only recently made aware that furloughs are not mandated to non-general fund employees.”
Palacios said it was not right that non-general fund employees voted and agreed to a concession to which they are not subjected.
“I hereby revoke any authority MEG has to respond on our behalf,” Palacios said.
He argued that if exempt employees are subject to the furloughs, the county is required by law to pay overtime wages.
“I will see if it is retroactive,” he said. “You may want to think about the cost savings if this opens you up to a liability on the overtime.”
County Counsel Matthew Granger addressed a few of the issues raised by Palacios during his comments, at the behest of Supervisor Jerry Muenzer who referred to the Palacios statements as “threats.”
Granger said the county had reviewed the legality of furloughs three to four years ago when they were first implemented. He said it was his understanding that if exempt employees are forced to take their furlough days off – meaning they do not conduct any work-related activities – then no overtime pay is required. He also said that although MEG is not a union, it has been an association with which the county has historically negotiated in the past. He said he believed the negotiations with the unit and their right to vote on concessions would be upheld if challenged in court.
“I don’t think we could wake up tomorrow and say, ‘We don’t want to work to negotiate with them anymore’ and impose on them anything we want,” Granger said.
Palacios asked to address the board again, but Chairman Jaime De La Cruz said the public comment period was over and denied the request.
Supervisor Anthony Botelho said that if there were discrepancies between parties within the MEG unit, they should work out those problems.
“All we can do is work with the agreement our negotiators have worked on,” Botelho said.
Botelho was more concerned the MEG unit had not agreed to a vacation accrual cap.
“There should be one policy countywide and that’s it,” he said, on the vacation accrual cap.
Supervisor Robert Rivas said he supported pay decreases versus furloughs. The supervisors approved the concessions 4-0, with Barrios not present.
The supervisors failed to come to an agreement on the concessions from the law enforcement managers bargaining unit. The group has only two members. They had agreed to pay 9 percent of their retirement fund staring July 1, an increase of 2.2 percent; to take five days furlough during the fiscal year; and to cap vacation accrual at two times the annual accrual rate.
Credico said the savings was estimated at $11,650 if it goes into effect July 1.
Botelho said he was unhappy with the level of concessions because each bargaining unit was asked to offer 10 to 12 percent savings to the county. The concessions from the law enforcement managers group amounted to about 6 percent.
Credico said there was a proposal to eliminate a cost-of-living adjustment in 2013, but it was not agreed upon. She said the members of the bargaining unit would receive a 5 percent COLA in 2013.
“We are recognizing 6 percent for the whole fiscal year,” Credico said. “It is not as much as the other groups, but it is still a savings we wouldn’t have.”
Credico said that the concessions this year are not in exchange for the COLA, already included in the managers’ contract. Credico noted that two other bargaining units had taken their COLAs in the last fiscal year.
Botelho said he could not support the resolution to approve the concessions because he could see “the finger pointing” that would come from other bargaining units that had given up more.
“We are not talking about 2012-13,” Botelho said. “We are talking about the next four to five years. We need to bring down benefits, bring down salaries and not expect a COLA every year.”
Supervisor Jaime De La Cruz had some strong words for the employees and his fellow supervisors as the discussion went on. The supervisors agreed to address the issue again with a special meeting at 9 a.m. Friday.
“For us to dance around and delay these options – every day passed July 1 without a balanced budget is more cuts at the end of the year,” he said. “We need to look at it globally instead of each department or organization.”
De La Cruz and Rivas voted yes to approve the resolution with the law enforcement managers, while Muenzer and Botelho voted against it. Botelho made a motion to direct staff to discuss further concessions with the unit. Botelho and Muenzer voted in favor of it, while De La Cruz and Rivas voted no. Both items failed.
WHO: SBC supervisors
WHAT: Talk concessions
WHEN: 9 a.m. Friday
WHERE: 481 Fourth St.
NUMBERS FROM MARCH
2011-12 general fund budget: $33 million
2012-13 projected revenues: $25.7 million
2011-12 estimated roll over: $1 million
2011-12 concessions: $1 million
Anticipated shortfall: $5.3 million