Inyo County: the cost of workers

inyo_courthouse1.jpgAfter Inyo County Administrator Kevin Carunchio recently underlined the earlier news that pay raises for all classes of employees will cost the County $1.8 million more next fiscal year and more than double that the following year, some workers began to question what happened. Carunchio pointed to equity adjustments made for many workers who had shouldered the same duties as others but took home less pay.

Citizens and courthouse workers themselves are sensitive to pay hikes – one way or the other. As a result of the equity changes, some employees got 30% raises. Carunchio explained that an internal view of jobs and pay revealed “gross inequities regarding the level of responsibility, independent judgment and skill. We were out of whack enough,” he said, “that we had to make significant adjustments.” The reason for the inequities, according to Carunchio, was the lack of a merit-based system which has now been put in place. The CAO admitted there were some “big jumps” in pay, but relative to jobs within the County he said it was a matter of fairness.

The $1.8 million of additional personnel costs covers cost of living adjustments and some equity changes for all but elected officials’ assistants and Probation Officers, both of which are still in negotiations. County workers had received no cost of living increases in four years.

Carunchio raised what he calls “productivity paradox” in which employees are asked to do more with no additional pay. “We have to pay them for their work as we look at tight budgets and possible lay-offs.” The County now pays 80% of health insurance costs rather than the former 100%. That means an additional $400,000.

So how does County government pay for all of this? Carunchio said the general fund is made up of 32% in all forms of taxes and the rest comes from State and Federal governments. The CAO says the County needs to “leverage for the greatest benefit.” He said it may mean more contracting for services in some cases and less in others. Carunchio points to a workshop on December 17th on creative budget solutions. He hopes to bring in the City of Bishop and others to look for government savings.

Said Carunchio, “I don’t know if we will cover the whole gap but we will try to avoid obvious slashing and burning.” He also points to a couple of examples. His Deputy, Pam Hennarty, volunteered to do the County Housing Element update which otherwise would have cost at least $30,000 for a consultant. The County paid a little more up front to keep foster children in the County and that has saved money.

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10 Responses to Inyo County: the cost of workers

  1. Mark December 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    “And we can raise the minimum wage”

    and make us that much less competitive in the World market?

    We need a better plan then just raising the minimum wage

  2. Ken Warner December 2, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    Paul Krugman at The New York Times once again does what his right-wing critics hate the most, mixes economics with politics, which they view as illegitimate except when they are the ones doing it:

    The last few decades have been tough for many American workers, but especially hard on those employed in retail trade — a category that includes both the sales clerks at your local Walmart and the staff at your local McDonald’s. Despite the lingering effects of the financial crisis, America is a much richer country than it was 40 years ago. But the inflation-adjusted wages of nonsupervisory workers in retail trade — who weren’t particularly well paid to begin with — have fallen almost 30 percent since 1973.
    So can anything be done to help these workers, many of whom depend on food stamps — if they can get them — to feed their families, and who depend on Medicaid — again, if they can get it — to provide essential health care? Yes. We can preserve and expand food stamps, not slash the program the way Republicans want. We can make health reform work, despite right-wing efforts to undermine the program.

    And we can raise the minimum wage.

  3. upthecreek December 1, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    If you think 1.8 million in one year is a lot .. Just wait till you Start seeing the increases that Public pensions has to future county budgets.


  4. Trouble November 28, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    I hope all middle class gets a bigraise. We’ve been waiting for that trickle down stuff.

    • Ken Warner November 28, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

      We’ve been getting that trickle — it’s yellow — surely you’ve noticed.

  5. johneliot November 28, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    And how much is the county building going to cost?

    • Benett Kessler November 28, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

      Right now, a total of $10.9 million to construct. Annual payments, with financing, of $690,000. At the end of 20 years, the County will own it. The County currently pays $357,000 per year in Bishop office leases.

  6. Bomber November 28, 2013 at 6:16 am #

    FASCISM GONE WILD.. While The rest of the American People, Let Them Eat Cake 🙂

  7. Frodo November 27, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    What employees and positions had their salaries raised by 30%? That information has to be public and inquiring minds want to know.

    • Benett Kessler November 27, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

      The risk manager’s pay went up by that much. Will check on others.
      Benett Kessler


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