By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sebastopol city employees have agreed to a pay freeze and to contribute a greater share of pension and health care costs in exchange for additional paid time off as part of new contracts with City Hall.
The agreements, which are on the agenda for the City Council meeting Tuesday night, would save the city $242,000 and are an integral part of balancing the 2011-2012 budget.
Other proposed measures to implement a 2.3 percent cut in general fund spending include using $90,000 in city reserves and reducing by half the city’s support to the Chamber of Commerce, Community Center, Center for the Arts, Historical Society, Rainbow House, Senior Center, World Friends and REP Theatre.
“We could have balanced the budget, but it would not have been done without layoffs, significant service cuts and the reduction of reserves,” City Manager Jack Griffin said. “All employees recognize that is not in the best interest of themselves or the city. These are fair and forward-thinking agreements.”
The proposed $5 million general fund budget, which is $119,000 smaller than the current budget, also is on is the City Council agenda.
The proposed contracts cover 44 workers who are part of the Sebastopol Police Officers Association, Service Employees International Union and an unrepresented employees’ bargaining unit.
The new employee contracts take effect July 1.
The agreements implement a 36-hour work week for all but public safety employees, which means City Hall, administration services and the city corporation yard will be closed every Friday. Currently, they are closed two Fridays every month.
But the shorter work week does not mean less total pay for all workers. Workers on an hourly schedule who are represented by SEIU and an independent City Hall bargaining group will have wages increased 11 percent so their gross wages will remain the same even as work hours are reduced. Public safety employees will have an additional week of paid vacation.
Workers will pick up significantly larger portions of retirement and health care costs, and retiree health care benefits are being eliminated for new SEIU and unrepresented employees.
The five-year agreements are meant to address the continual increases in retirement and health care costs. Portions of the agreements can be reopened if financial conditions improve or worsen.
The city general fund budget does not include the $2 million sewer budget, $1 million water operations budget and $2.1 million redevelopment agency budget.