Written by Administrator Tuesday, 12 June 2012 05:56
By Steve Pinkerton
As the City has faced tough economic times, the last four years have been a time of transition and restructuring. As the City faces a new era, the question has become "How can service model deliveries be improved to maintain the high level of service expected by the citizens, while staying within stagnant revenues and increased employment costs?"
Since budget year 2009/2010, the City has tried to reduce positions by attrition in order to avoid laying off employees. The City's work force has dropped from 445 full time equivalents to 376 full time equivalents over the last four years, a 15.5% overall staff reduction.
Included in this reduction is the deletion of 8 management positions, which equates to a 22% reduction in management staff. Unfortunately, reduction only by attrition is no longer a sustainable model and service delivery methods must now be evaluated.
One such example of delivery of service is with the City's tree division. The City's urban forest is an important asset to the City of Davis.
The City has in place a tree maintenance program which calls for the general pruning of all City owned trees at least once every eight years. This annual general tree pruning has been done by our current contractor since 2001.
So the bulk of the City's urban forest has been and will continue to be maintained by contract. Having a dedicated city staffed tree crew to perform tree maintenance is no longer a necessity to maintain the City's urban forest at its current level. Consolidation of maintenance functions city-wide and changing the way services are provided should actually produce greater service levels to the community.
While the Park Tax was greatly needed, it only covers twenty-five percent of the parks maintenance costs. The passing of the tax reduced the need for further cuts at the moment, but did not solve the problem of escalating medical and retirement costs of employees.
A Tree Trimmer's annual salary may be approximately $50,000, but the attached benefits to that position add an additional $50,000 to the compensation package. The general fund savings of cutting two filled and one vacant tree positions are approximately $318,000.
Because the City was unable to achieve an agreement with DCEA, the City had to impose concessions. Those imposed concessions were challenged by DCEA before the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).
If the City loses the PERB ruling and has to pay back the furlough time taken by DCEA employees, those employees will receive pay for days that were not worked.
These days off alone would cost the City nearly $300,000 plus accrued interest charges. With the other concessions imposed, plus unemployment, the City's obligation is expected to be in excess of $800,000. Irrespective of the outcome at PERB, however, both the original concessions and additional cost savings were and are necessary, and these facts have been discussed extensively with DCEA at the table.
Similarly, it was discussed that without negotiated solutions, some positions may need to be eliminated and employees laid off. Sadly, concessions with the DCEA unit were not achieved through negotiations to date, leaving the City only the option to lay off employees and restructure several departments to minimize the impacts of those cuts to the community.
I believe that some of that $56000 is also sick and vacation time which isn't paid on top of wages like overtime, so the actual number is lower. Plus they might have included the employer share, of which, some is paid by the employees.
David, could you get a actual breakdown of the total comp from the city?
According to the city:
The total compensation number quoted does not include sick leave and vacation time.
Total comp includes:
Sec 125 Plan (i.e. city paid medical)
It deducts any PERS payment made by the employee
PERS payments made on behalf of the employee, both employee and employer
EPMC PERS payments (i.e. spiking cost)
1959 Survivor Benefit PERS cost
Retiree Medical (budgeted at 20 percent of payroll in upcoming fiscal year)
"Aren't some of those other $56,000 in "benefits" covering retirement medical and other city costs that will now just be spread to fewer employees? If so the city will not experience all the savings listed here."
According to the city: "the retiree medical is per employee, so that does drop. Workers comp we are self insured and project it per employee, so that drops as the workforce drops, unemployment is pay as you go – so that cost could go up slightly as we reduce the workforce."
"That we pay a city tree trimmer only $50,000 might surprise most taxpayers, but the fact that it costs us $106,000 to have this modestly paid laborer onboard is astounding."
That is the problem, and has been the problem. What we are seeing now is the washing away of denial that the problem exists. What has been astounding to me is how difficult it has been to get people to accept the absurdity of paying $106,000 for a tree trimmer, or $160,000 for an accountant, and also get them to admit that the accumulation of so much public-sector compensation largess has always been unsustainable.
Mr. Pinkerton is doing the hard work folks. Don’t shoot the messenger.
Jeff Boone- first of all, you said "Mr. Pinkerton is doing hard work". How do you figure that? At his wage? I don't think I would use the word "hard". The people who work hard are the people being laid off!!
The city tree trimmer is a term that everyone is quick to throw around and judge. The city Tree Trimmer II is also a Certified Arborist. He cares about the trees. He also cares about the citizens and their personal property. Mr. Pinkerton should have a conversation with the contractors(but unless he is bi-lingual that wont happen)that are used to "trim" trees(I use that term loosely) oh but wait he won't even talk to his own employees.. So I hear that contract labor is cheaper. What about storm damage and fallen trees on the weekend or nights? Those are not covered in the contract so those are extra services which guess what?? Cost extra!!
So the city loses the PERB hearing and no one says anything. They did wrong and still won't admit it. Shouldn't someone take the blame? How is it the fault of these 9 employees?
It has been asked of the city on numerous occasions by DCEA that if they give up certain concessions will they be able to avoid layoffs and the city's answer was we can't guarantee that!?!?! Of course Mr. Pinkerton is giving you his side of the story, well actually he is giving you second hand information from the negotiator(that is being paid out of general fund).
PERB = Another useless state agency, and tool of the public employee unions, that few people know about. San Diego residents learned about PERB this election season as the San Diego teachers union attempted a manuver using PERB to block a baloot initiative to reduce public-sector pensions. Thankfully, a real judicial entity overturned PERB's expected favortism for union whine.
There is good news in this lost appeal in that the resulting DCEA layoffs will cause more attention by the public for understanding the problems we face.
I don't think the union bosses have a feel for the tide of popular opinion turning against them. It was a good run, but public employee unions are heading for the history books with the dinosaurs.
We need to do like Virginia did years ago, and like Arizona is doing now:
News From AZ...
Senate Bill 1484 states public employers "shall not deduct" any third party (unions) payments unless they have express permission from the employee.
Senate Bill 1485 aims to kill collective bargaining altogether: "No state agency or political subdivision of this state is vested or possesses any authority to ... (2) collectively bargain or enter into any employment bargain with any union or its agents."
Senate Bill 1486 prohibits cities and towns from building into union contracts any "release time," that is releasing city employees from their city jobs to work on behalf of the unions while still collecting salaries and benefits.
Senate Bill 1487 would make it unlawful for the public sector employer to diverted employee pay for "labor organization dues."
City has lost its PERB appeal.
Is that a prediction or do you know something I don't?
But, it is my understanding that the "action" happened today.
Dave Owen and Steve Pinkerton are now confirming that the appeal lost. Apparently it happened Friday and Pinkerton just learned this afternoon.Have to hand it to you, David. You proved me wrong, and you are much more knowledgeable than me. My apologies to all.
Was it Harriet Steiner who told the Council they had completed all the right steps in the PERB process?
So do we now have an unneeded fine of $800,000 for that mistaken advice plus $125,000 taxpayers paid to hire some other law firm other than Harriet to file an appeal that was lost?
And not one Council member would pull the legal services contract from the consent calendar for the community to discuss the contract?
Why was the contract approved just weeks before an election of a majority of the Council?
What was the Council thinking?
I'm not following you hpierce, you knew before the city manager that the city had lost its appeal, I only followed up on the news and confirmed it.Ok.. let's get facts straight... I found out this afternoon (look at time of my post)... how can you say that I knew before City Manager did? Did others in the CMO know before he did?
I wrote that I thought it was decided today (Monday). You confirmed that it was decided Friday. I stand by my apology for not having my facts straight. What else do you not follow?
David t. Be honest... your post is about Twin Pines, etc. You are using this for your pecuniary interest, not for the purpose of this 'thread'. Unlike you, I have no financial interest in either the PERB matter, nor the DACHA matter. Could it be that the City Attorney advised the Council/CM AGAINST these courses of action, and they decided to direct the CA to proceed, anyway? I do NOT profess to know... does anyone else profess to know?
The thread is how did we end up with a cost that appears to have emanated from staff advice to Council.
Is that not the PERB problem?
What about the RDA screw-ups?
The Sharps and Flats fiasco of forgotten fees?
The $600,000 lost on the FIfth Street project?
Is that not a similar problem with the water issues?
And what about the cell tower trauma?
The list is long and costly and I do not even have to mention ?