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Pay raises for city workers in new budget

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POSTED July 4, 2014 1:39 a.m.

There’s money for pay raises in Manteca’s $30.1 million general fund spending plan for the next 12 months.

Finance Director Suzanne Mallory noted the money set aside for pay raises varies between 1.3 and 4.75 percent for various bargaining units as a variety of factors are at play including retirement, health insurance, and other benefits that vary among employee groups.

Mallory indicated an exact dollar amount the city has budgeted for all potential hikes  in compensation for employee included in the budget adopted this week is difficult to determine as it is spread across the budget tied into positions, departments, and benefits such as retirement.

Overall budgeting for compensation for each unit is more even as it reflects how each employee group negotiated both in their contracts and concessions they made over five years ago to allow the city to shore up its finances as revenues nosedived during the Great Recession.

Representatives for the Operating Engineers and Mid-Management drew applause from municipal employees in the audience at Tuesday’s Manteca City Council meeting when they spoke against the city hiring additional employees “until they took care of those who have been loyal” and doing the job with reduced staff and compensation cutbacks.

Mike Eggener, representing 100 municipal workers that are associated with the Operating Engineers, chided the city for budgeting to increase staffing from 332 to 351 workers while not restoring lost hours and compensation that was the result of furloughs imposed to cut costs as budget revenues retreated.

City Manager Karen McLaughlin noted of the 19 net “new” positions in the budget only 15 are positions not currently filled. That’s because four of them are for funding three police officers and a firefighter currently covered by an endowment fund provided by growth fees. That fund is dwindling down prompting the need to shift then to a different funding source. The four existing positions are being shifted to the general fund. That leaves 15 new employees. Of those, only three are within the general fund — a new police officer, a new firefighter, and a new planner. 

The other 12 new employees are funded in enterprise accounts such as sewer, water, and solid waste. Those positions are financed primarily by rates paid by users.

The overall budget is $112 million once all programs including the enterprise accounts and capital improvement projects are bundled together.

Even though there is an increase in revenue due to the improving economy staff noted funding is still not restored to previous levels.

Councilman Steve DeBrum noted that while he believes the council needs to make every effort to improve the compensation of loyal employees who made the necessary contractual concessions while picking up additional workload the council also has to keep the city in a financial position to afford providing services to residents.

Manteca municipal employees took an average reduction of 20 percent five years ago. A large chunk of that was pay and benefits that had been negotiated in a contract but the city could not afford to honor due to the Great Recession unless they shed staff beyond what they did.  That meant they never had a portion of their negotiated compensation in pocket.

The current contracts expire in June 2015.

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