SHARED SACRIFICE OR DARK AGENDA? BONUS PAY FOR CITY MANAGEMENT? WHY?
Carlsbad, California is the newest example of shameful shared sacrifice. Mayor Matt Hall and Management are pushing a dark agenda to bridge a $2.6 million dollar budget shortfall (with fuzzy math and a $50 million dollar reserve account). The contract offer has not been made public, and the mayor has not answered my email questioning the offer.
Mayor Matt Hall's "shared sacrifice' philosophy is skewed. Carlsbad Management is hiding the truth, pretending to be responsible while remaining bloated, targeting the least compensated. Public employees are viewed as greedy parasites, but the greedy are usually not the lowest paid employees. The lowest paid are not the parasites in Carlsbad, either.
The contract may be imposed by City Council before residents know the implications. Without the support of residents, the lowest paid city workers will lose the basic protections they have. They could lose their jobs, and Carlsbad may become the next city in California that outsources city departments to private companies -- another Costa Mesa. But not management staff! Management staff is safe from the axe, despite the fact that they earn the bulk of the payroll. The numbers are from the most recent available, 2009 to 2010.
The targeted employees are the LOWEST paid workers in the city. There are 330 members of the City of Carlsbad Employees Association. The first 20 of the employees (computer geeks and engineers) on the list earn a total of $1,893,489. The highest base salary is $108,978, but there are 154 employees in this class of workers that earn under $50,000.
Compare this to Carlsbad Management, which has 111 employees. Base pay of the top 35 management employees totals $4,857,782. The highest paid employee of the 35 earns a base pay of $236,300 and number 35 on the list makes $110,449. Out of 111 management employees, only three earn under $50,000 a year.
Every management employee is also eligible for what is called INCENTIVE PAY. Incentive Pay can add an extra 10% BONUS to the yearly base salary. These employees can receive TAXPAYER-FUNDED BONUSES based on meeting goals. They are the ONLY employees that qualify for Incentive Pay. Although these employees make the bulk of the money, their benefits and pay are not a target for cuts. THEIR Salaries and Bonuses are safe "Shared sacrifice." Are Taxpayers aware that Management can, has, and will pay itself BONUSES?
Second and third on the pay scale are police and firefighters. There are approximately 227 firefighters, paramedics and police officers. Only nine of these employees earn under $50,000 per year in base pay. The top 20 employees earn a total of just under $3,000,000. The highest compensated earns $173,753. The police have a contract in place, but the firefighters are currently negotiating. The firefighters will have the "non-financial' clause imposed on them, too. Maybe the mayor wants to outsource paramedics.
In the contract offered by City management, the Association employees' wages will be frozen, and their pension contribution will be increased to 7%. The City will pay other benefits at 50%, while the employees will contribute 50%. Vacation, holiday and sick time are being reduced.
The most onerous of the NEW clauses is "non-financial'. It falls under Article 8 City Rights: "After meeting and conferring over the decision and the effects, the rights of the City include the ability to transfer employees among various City activities and work groups, implement unpaid furloughs of employees, contract out bargaining unit work to third parties, or assign work to City employees outside the bargaining unit."
TRANSLATION: Upon activation, the city has the right to transfer any employee to any other position. Example #1: If you are a senior librarian earning $70,000 dollars a year, the city may transfer you to the position of tree trimmer 1 at a yearly salary of $26,929. Don't like it, quit.
Example #2: The city may send you or your entire department home without pay and hire private contractors to do your jobs (outsourcing), or the city may hire part-time workers to do your job, pay what they wish and offer no benefits. The clause is unlimited. It may be activated anytime, for any reason, at the whim of the mayor and City Council. It is an effort to fire the most experienced and educated employees, simply to replace them with lower paid, less qualified workers.
How many Taxpayers know about the Management INCENTIVE PAY plan? Should Bonuses even be paid from City revenues? If the goal of a manager is to come in under budget for his department, this BONUS PLAN could serve as an incentive to delay the purchase of needed equipment or to cut corners on maintenance. The existence of a BONUS PLAN in any city government is suspect, at best. Managers receive the fattest salaries. Are salary and generous benefits insufficient motivation for a job well done? When the lowest paid employees are targeted for cuts and possible extinction, how is this shared sacrifice?
INCENTIVE PAY PLAN (excerpts taken from the City Website, revised 07/2010):
"The Incentive Pay plan is provided in addition to the Base Pay plan.
All management employees are eligible for incentive pay, regardless of their position in the salary range.