My name is Chandler Peay, President of the Plumas County Sheriff’s Employees Association. These comments are meant to address the state of the membership I represent and bring attention to issues within the county in hopes these concerns will be heard and addressed by the board, whom we have elected to represent us. Many have already spoken in the past weeks in regard to the upcoming health insurance premium increase.
To put the health insurance increase in perspective. Sheriff’s Office employees are currently spending about $325 a month for a family plan. In 2023, the overall plan cost is going up by 17.79 percent. Sounds bad right? If the employee receives no additional help from the county, they will have to come up with an extra $325 for a new total monthly cost of $650. That’s a 100 percent increase to what the employee is currently paying. Employees simply cannot afford this hit.
Meanwhile just this year we have seen the BOS dole out massive raises to several department heads. This point is not meant to attack those individuals but is being brought up because for so long the county has been bent on “equality” to avoid hurt feelings. These raises are FAR from that unless the county plans to offer the rest of the employees 10 percent plus raises.
Resolution 22-8703 approved by each board member reflected massive raises to department head positions. If you look at the document some of the positions received base pay raises in the 20, 30, and even one in the 40 percent range. This was not meant to keep things “equal” and is only a SLAP IN THE FACE to every other county employee
To gain a better understanding of how the county came up with its justification for these new raises, on Sept. 13 I submitted a public information request to the Human Resources department requesting information about how these inequities were determined. Specifically, in part of my request, I asked for the names of the 10 counties used as a comparison. On Sept. 21 the HR department responded to my request and provided me with a BOS resolution document which I already had and provided nothing about the comparison as I requested. The response also indicated “Additional documents will be available after September 26, 2022,” but to this day I have not received any additional information and I have responded to the HR department again, requesting the names of the 10 counties. This makes me feel there is something being suppressed or hidden and leaves me, the membership I represent, and likely other county employees to be fearful that our employer may not have our best interest in mind. (To respond to the HR Director’s defensive comments after my public comment, it does NOT matter if another member of the association requested the same or similar material, it should have still been provided to me the first time if not, it surely should have been provided the second time I requested it).
I understand the county claims to be unaware of its current financial situation and for one that is unacceptable. Myself and the members I represent understand the county is not likely to give us the same raises given to department heads; however, we are hurting and will be hurting at the Sheriff’s Office even more soon if action is not taken.
One of my colleagues (a deputy) is currently in backgrounds (this means he is in the hiring process with another agency). Several colleagues are panicking about the insurance premium increase and searching for new jobs daily. The county MUST look for ways to save money and provide for the employees because without us there could be major public safety issues on your hands and the BOS will have failed the employees and the constituents that elected them into office.
I am urging the board of supervisors to take this seriously and take action to offer their employees the best benefits they possibly can. I love this county, my job, and my co-workers but we cannot survive on our love for the job and our desire to serve our community. With inflation and health insurance increases we are quite literally going backwards.
A short time ago my own family had to make a tough decision and that was for my wife to leave the department. She was a new deputy and loved what she did; however, an opportunity presented itself for her to work a hybrid schedule with most all nights and weekends off, holidays off, little to no shift work, and health insurance benefits at about one-fourth of what the county’s will soon be, not to mention she is making significantly more money for a job where I don’t have to worry if she’s going to come home at the end of the day.
I truly hope the Board of Supervisors has heard my concerns today. The BOS holds the power to effect change here in Plumas County, preserve this county, and invest in its future because the employees and their constituents are relying on them to do what is right!
You should be concerned too and I urge you to reach out to your BOS to express your thoughts or do so at the next BOS meeting.
By Chandler Peay
Plumas County Sheriff’s Employees Association