Anything beyond the previously agreed upon cost-of-living adjustment for Lathrop’s two employee bargaining units is going to have to wait until next year.
On Monday, the Lathrop City Council approved a plan that will extend the previously approved cost-of-living adjustment for both the Lathrop Mid-Managers and Confidential Employees Association and the Service Employees International Union Local 1021 through the end of the next fiscal year – ensuring that a 3 percent COLA is guaranteed for all employees when the next fiscal year begins in July.
Negotiations between the unions and the city’s administration began in February but had to be tabled after the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. The subsequent fiscal fallout from being forced to shutter businesses and how that will affect the city’s operating budget moving forward is not yet fully know. The memorandum of understanding that the council approved has received the blessing of both of the city’s employee bargaining units.
Because Lathrop was hit hard by the housing crisis and the ensuing fiscal fallout that began in 2008, the city has been diligent about building reserves that it can use in times of fiscal crisis – a process aided by the subsequent passing of a one-cent sales tax increase that helps fund fire service, police services, and other city necessities that benefit the community. Having that cushion has allowed the City of Lathrop to avoid dipping into the coveted general fund reserves and allowed the city to bolster its rainy day fund.
And the impact of the tough decisions that elected officials had to make in Lathrop are still being felt today. After facing deficits as high as $16 million, the reduction in staffing and forced furloughs forced the city to operate as lean as possible – which still rings true at City Hall.
The memorandum of understanding that was approved by the council will extend the previously agreed-upon MOU that provided the 3 percent increase across the board for employees that belong to those bargaining units.
Negotiations between the city’s administration and representatives from the bargaining units are expected to begin again in January when a full picture of the impact of COVID-19 on municipal finances will be far more likely. The total cost of extending the COLA for another fiscal year will bring an economic impact of $310,000 which was already anticipated and built into the city’s budget – meaning that the council did not have to take any additional steps to appropriate the money for the agreement.
Part of the uncertainty stems the impact of a reduction in sales tax revenue and how much of the State of California’s anticipated budget shortage will trickle down to local governments.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.