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County supervisors, department leaders take benefit cuts

Dan McDonald
Staff Writer
4/11/2012

 

The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to reduce benefits for themselves and other salaried county leaders last week.

Two weeks after county officers blasted the supervisors and budget officer Jack Ingstad for the pay cut process, the mood during the meeting Tuesday, April 3, was somewhat subdued.

Chairman Robert Meacher, who is leaving the board in December after 20 years on the job, broke a long silence after the vote.

“You know, after sitting here 20 years, this is a hell of a legacy. I wanted to leave this county in better shape,” Meacher said. “This is not any fault of this board’s. It’s just very unpleasant.”

The cuts were approved during the fiscal 2011-12 budget process to help the county close a million-dollar deficit. But they hadn’t been adopted.

Last month, Ingstad warned that the county could be facing a similar deficit next year.

The ordinances and resolutions, which were to be adopted at the meeting Tuesday, April 10, reduce the county’s contribution to the employees’ retirement fund. Employees will also pay current and future medical insurance increases.

The cuts mirror the concessions accepted by the county’s largest employee union months ago.

County officials — both elected and appointed, with the exception of the sheriff — will begin paying 3 percent of the 7 percent retirement contribution. The county has been paying the full 7 percent.

The sheriff’s department, which has 10 unfilled deputy positions, contributed $250,000 from its budget to the county’s general fund. That concession spared the department from benefit cuts for this year only.

Elected officials, who had the option of negotiating individually, collectively agreed to the same cuts. They plan to meet with county counsel to have their contracts amended.

The ordinance also reduces the benefits for future elected officials.

Supervisor Lori Simpson, who was an employee union leader before becoming an elected official, has been on both sides of the negotiation process.

“From someone who was a labor negotiator, I’m not too happy about having to do this,” Simpson said. “But it had to be done.”

“I understand,” Meacher said. “And I think our employees understand.”

“None of us like it,” Supervisor Terry Swofford added.

The county department heads said they knew the cuts were coming. But several of them sharply criticized the county when the contract amendments were placed on the March 20 agenda.

They were collectively upset that they were given just five days notice and were allotted only 20 minutes of discussion.

The heated discussion ended up lasting nearly 90 minutes. Most of the department heads’ frustration was directed at Ingstad over an email sent to department heads that stated, in part, “If a department head declines the amendment, the board will need to give notice of termination to the employee.”

Ingstad was on vacation and didn’t attend the April 3 board meeting. He was scheduled to have a performance evaluation by the board during closed session before Tuesday’s scheduled meeting.

Ingstad said March 23 he was prepared to resign if he didn’t have the supervisors’ support.

 

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good we're broke time for austerity.<br />it works, just today in the news about scott brown saving wisconsin.no schools had to close nor teachers laidoff
VOTES:-1
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Huter Von Die Wolfe Thursday, 12 April 2012
If the BOS's acted as an executive board they, of course, would be held accountable for bad decisions they make. The little fiefdom is exclusive in that they get to interview and hire a new CAO. They then, when pressure gets to hot on them, fire the CAO. What a perfect world, life is good!
VOTES:2
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Huter Von Die Wolfe Thursday, 12 April 2012
The BOS's is not a legislative body. The recent past has demonstrated they are merely a rubber stamp mechanisim for the executive leader of Plumas County Government, the CAO. We do not need both the CAO and BOS's. The BOS's have uniquely set themselves up for little accountability.
VOTES:3
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Huter Von Die Wolfe Thursday, 12 April 2012
Who's going to run the BOS's and the county now that Humpty Dumpty has been dismissed? The BOS's sometimes appear to be at odds with thmselves, their constituents, and the county as a whole.
VOTES:2
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Huter Von Die Wolfe Thursday, 12 April 2012
Some of these department heads and employees, in some cases have already been hit with benefit reductions, work week reductions, and/or layoffs.
VOTES:3
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Huter Von Die Wolfe Thursday, 12 April 2012
If the BOS's had taken ownership and provided genuine leadership, they could have taken a proactive role in the ongoing budget crisis and been first to suggest pay cuts for themselves. They now find themsselves in a reactive position with department heads and employees.
VOTES:4
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Huter Von Die Wolfe Thursday, 12 April 2012
Leaders should be in command and plot the course that will fill the sails of the SS Plumas County. Instead they have have positioned themselves on the poop deck and once again chosen to lead from behind.
VOTES:4
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Huter Von Die Wolfe Thursday, 12 April 2012
I do not know whether to applaud, laugh, or cry at the BOS's dawding on reducing benefits for themselves and other salaried county employees.
VOTES:3
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Fines wouldn't make up a million dollar deficit in one year. When the property appraiser lowered the property values lower than any other county in the state - the tax base dropped drastically. Good the CEO is out. The Board should do the job!
VOTES:0
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dennis dickeenson Wednesday, 11 April 2012
have the judges do more appropriate fines.<br />problem solved
VOTES:-4

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