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Santa Rosa city workers agree to pay cuts, wage freeze

By MARY CALLAHAN
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Santa Rosa City Manager Kathy Millison hailed City Hall staffers Friday for their willingness to help the city ride out tough financial times with continuing employee givebacks in the 2012-13 fiscal year that promise about $2.2 million in new savings.

Tentative agreements reached Friday with bargaining units for more than 800 of the city’s 1,200 non-public-safety workers include a 3.08 percent pay cut, principally through unpaid furlough days, and a freeze on wage increases, Millison said.

Previous changes in the distribution of health care costs agreed to last year by miscellaneous employee groups mean an ongoing savings of $700,000 a year, as well, Millison said.

“Our employees understand the City’s financial challenges and want to help,” Millison said in a written statement released late Friday. “This is the third successive year that most of our miscellaneous employees have come forward with contract concessions.”

For most employees, the pay cuts will be seen largely through 64 hours of unpaid furlough time that the majority will take during Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday office closures, Millison said.

About 41 unrepresented employees, including executive staff, also agreed to 3.08 percent reductions, with executives paying an additional 2 percent of their salaries toward their pensions, for a total contribution of at least 10 percent, Millison said.

Both represented and unrepresented miscellaneous employee groups last year agreed to about $3 million in concessions through health care reductions and furlough time, resulting in a savings to the General Fund of about $1.5 million, Millison said.

Similar savings were reached the previous year.

The City Council is scheduled to take action on the tentative agreements for the 2012-2013 year at its April 3 meeting, Millison said.





24 Responses to “Santa Rosa city workers agree to pay cuts, wage freeze”

  1. Larry says:

    Has anyone heard of the Santa Rosa City Manager or City Attorney taking a 40% paycut or forgoing their 3% at 55. What about their Deferred Compensation and other perks. Does Santa Rosa need a City Attorney who is paid $185,000 per year plus another $100,000 in benefits. Does Santa Rosa need a City Manager who is the hightest paid city manager in the north bay. It is interesting that “a out of town manager” can come to Santa Rosa and get a salary of $250,000 plus $100,000 in benefits. Maybe pay and benefits for the lowest paid city employees could be retained if Management Compensation at the highest levels was reduced. As I see City Managment Compensation, it is just a big contest between management officials to see who can get the highest salary and benefit package. ITS ALL ABOUT GREED!

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  2. bear says:

    Hey. Eliminate all government employees except management. Then contract out every public service to private firms.

    If you think that $50K police officers and firefighters and teachers, without pensions or benefits, are good enough, just say so.

    If you think this will save you money, I’d like to hear how.

    Sorry, but republicans are after all the unions, voters, benefits and public employees they can get rid of.

    But they have no concern about the $850 billion defense budget, or with the troops who are getting screwed or the lifetime budget obligations that are being incurred to fight two unwinnable wars.

    But they will take away your birth control.

    You people don’t have the wits to juggle two or more issues at the same time.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    @Mr. PepperSpray PIKE
    Not sure what your problem with police officers is, but you need to pick a different forum to vent. This exchange is about city wages for NON-safety employees.
    And I have to disagree with your assumption that all officers are stupid muscle. Are there some that not stand-up citizens. I’m sure. But show me ANY group of people and there are SOME that are not stand-up. That is life.
    Oh, and our officers are NOT 100 K paid. I wish they were paid closer to that benchmark. And when you have someone with a gun in your face and nobody but an officer willing to intervene.. we’ll see what song you sing then.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 5

  4. Mr. PepperSpray PIKE says:

    San Francisco Chronicle, Online, today
    (04-03) 14:17 PDT Centennial, Colo. (AP) –

    “”A former Colorado sheriff known for his crusade against youth drug use has pleaded guilty to charges of trading methamphetamine for sex.”"

    THE DIRTY THUG COP ESSENTIALLY WAS RAPING VULNERABLE FEMALES BY USING DRUGS AS A TOOL AGAINST THEM. NOTICE HIS HYPOCRISY, TOO, IN THAT HE PLAYED THE “ANTI DRUG” COWBOY.

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  5. Vowel Movement says:

    Pepperspray…. A short tour through your last posts gives us all a very clear picture of the bottom of the societal barrel…

    A little less petulance and a little more though provoking conversation would be lovely.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

  6. Mr. PepperSpray PIKE says:

    Vowel Movement fails to understand that the bottom of societies barrel already seeks employment as cops. They are hired for muscle and nothing more. The daily headlines of them getting caught in criminal acts seems to escape you.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 17

  7. Mr. PepperSpray PIKE says:

    Truth in News … cops are a waste of money at $100,000 annual salary. Any truck driver or warehouseman could do the exact same job for half the price. The paperwork that cops push around is barely higher level than high school complexity. They cannot even make it through the day without hanging out together at the local snack shop. Witness their cop bikes all huddled together in various parking lots.

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  8. Average Joe says:

    It looks like the public employees have spoken loud and clear on this blog. Very interesting.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

  9. Follower says:

    @John
    “You pay less, you get less”
    Wouldn’t THAT be nice??!!
    Less waste, less corruption, less oppression, less incompetence, less taxes… but somehow they manage to keep all of the above while punishing us greedy tax payers with less services, less teachers, less fire fighters, less police, less road crews and less liberty.

    All in an attempt to squeeze the public into voting for more taxes.

    But can you blame them?

    IT WORKS!

    We vote over & over again for more taxes and reward them all by re-electing the people doing this too us.

    Over & over again.

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  10. truth in news says:

    We need to cut all police services and let the liberal “everything will be ok” run law enforcement. Just give the the money saved to all the special programs and hope it is enough to keep the criminal element from beating you up and taking your stuff!

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 10

  11. Lets Reconsider This says:

    All of these crocodile tears from these city employees and their union.

    Folks, the problem is we have a city government that we cannot afford anymore and it has been this way for several years.

    The pie has been nibbled at around the edges, but the real needed cuts have not been made. The city funds too many feel good projects, for example the media group. It has to many employees in too many departments that are marginal. Do we really need a community organizer?

    These are just two examples. Too many employees earning too much money and eligible for too many pension benefits are a big part of the problem.

    Naturally all of this hits real human beings with real stories of problems, but we all have problems and we have all been laid off at one time or another unless you have worked for government all of your working career.

    Santa Rosa has a big bureaucracy that pushes a lot paper and collects a lot of fees. Somebody needs to look into this bureaucracy and come up with a budget that makes sense and is not subject to the whim of every special interest group in town and the public unions which have the city by the throat. Nothing on the horizon so far. If nothing is done, your job situations are only going to get a lot worse and so will the community.

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  12. Vowel Movement says:

    Mr. Pepperspray Pike… to suggest that we remunerate our law enforcement $50K per year is to invite the absolute bottom of the barrel to apply. You’re being obtuse. I personally don’t begrudge them one cent of their salary. Their jobs take a huge toll on their minds and bodies. They work ridiculous amounts of overtime. They are subjected to the highest levels of scrutiny and abuse. Divorce rates are astronomical, as are on the job injuries and disability retirements.

    Their CalPers (publicly funded) pensions are another thing altogether. While I fully support generous salaries, I would suggest that they should be funding their own retirements, much like the rest of the working world.

    It is clear from your posts that you have a huge chip on your shoulder for cops. Kindly stop with the slanderous verbiage. It diminishes the importance of these discussions and quite frankly, undermines what little credibility you still possess.

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  13. Mr. PepperSpray PIKE says:

    Cops are worth $50,000 a year and not much more. All they do is push paper most of the time and its complexity level is that of high school. Cut their pay and use the savings for more important functions.

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  14. Rydin Shotgun says:

    So if the city can do without them 3% of the time then why not furlough 3% of them? In fact furlough about 8% of them and then see how many citizens complain about decreased service or longer service times.

    To be honest this is a joke and wag of the proverbial middle digit at the tax payers and future tax payers.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 15

  15. Lets be Reasonable says:

    Sunny – “When are the layoffs in Santa Rosa going to begin?”
    .
    The private sector has seen job growth for two years now, the public sector is still shedding jobs. The City has shed 183 jobs in the last 4 years, or over 13% of its workforce. Much of it coming from just these same units. There are also probably another 150 or so employees who have been bumped to lower positions. I know a number of co-workers who’ve lost over 20% of their salary. Ask them whether they want more time off without pay for an additional 3% cut, or whether they would rather be working.

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 11

  16. GAJ says:

    Public Safety once again not sharing in the pain even though their pay and bennies dominate the budget.

    Putting the screws first and foremost to the lowest paid and lowest compensated seems completely bassackwards to me!

    You cut from the top down for crying out loud!

    Thumb up 31 Thumb down 7

  17. John says:

    @ Dan – You posted “Who really loses in these situations are the citizens of the city who receive less service for their money.”

    Don’t forget, it’s less service for less money paid. Your property taxes have gone down in this housing collapse and therefore YOU are paying less money into the city coffers. You pay less you get less. Seems logical to me.

    Furloughs save the city money because at the end of the year the employee has earned a lower income. However it is achieved, budget money saved is money saved!

    Thumb up 21 Thumb down 12

  18. Antonia Harding says:

    The reason you hear nothing but “I wish they would lay more people off” on this website is because it is populated byt he same right wind, ayn randian, tea party haters who have nothing to do all day but post about “lberal Marxist” Jerry Brown and demand “Ban unions” from behind anonymous computer screens. They don’t represent the majority of voters (hence the frustration and bitterness about ‘left wing politicians like Wes Chesbro and Lynn Woolsey) and they don’t accomplish anything constructive (hence their failure to repeal the SMART TRAIN) They just post here and say mean, bitter hateful things about progressives, environmentalists, unions, teachers, firefighters and other public workers) Please don’t pay them any attention and Please know that there are many Santa Rosans who appreciate your sacrifice, know how hard you work for your money and don’t wish you ill but hope that the economy improves and we all share success and improved services as well as fair pay and benefits and dignified retirement (which we ALL deserve) when it does return. Thanks Santa Rosa City Workers!

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  19. Sandy says:

    I have to agree that the comments are surprisingly cavalier regarding a pretty tough contract with city employees. This covers a large swath of employees that are essentially having wages cut.
    Of note, there have already been layoffs, which is why the remaining employees are having furlough, which means unpaid time off, aka wage cuts.
    The people here commenting about the lack of sacrifice perhaps have had it worse, but I will never understand the rationale that because something worse happened to others, everyone should be suffering. I view this as the “victimhood” attitude, which helps nobody and surely is a far cry from the “can do” attitude that some seem to revere as an American attribute.
    I am not saying anyone deserves to have to suffer job loss or any other loss. We are truly in this economy together, so I see no reason to wish for more job cuts in light of the economic benefit for all when consumer confidence and spending drives (what I’ve been told) comprises 70 percent of economy. I would hope for a realization in my native California. We have ballot initiatives where people sign up for as “yes, I want this and that service”, but I do not want to pay for it. Truthfully, I think rooting for failure is the wrong tactic.
    My household is suffering with this situation, maybe not enough for some… but really look at the situation without bias, the employees agreed to take a loss and some seem to be calling this
    agreement insufficient sacrifice.
    Well Santa Rosa, I know there are many services you now enjoy. I hope people will be less demanding of they need police, fire or their water or sewer line is broken. I know the Recreation and Parks have been cut and the charges for Softball Leagues have skyrocketed. I think most people like to take children to parks for a day of family fun and consider it something to enjoy as a perk of living in this town. Someone comes along and cuts grass, cleans bathrooms, collects and empties trash.
    The roads are maintained, traffic signals, side walks, street lights. That is paid in your water bill and perhaps real estate taxes.
    I hope those complaining about city employees and expenses for these things will lower expectations, but somehow the nature of those complaining might be more to expect more for less.
    I find it extremely unrealistic to expect to pull the plug on the whole thing and start over, then keep the status quo or better in regard to services. I know there are people that disagree, but how long did it take to build up from horse and buggy, Santa Rosa to what we have now. I personally enjoy having the charm of history, but I do not want to live in the 1800′s again.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    I just have to say how disappointed I am at the limited, short-sighted, uncaring comments I’ve seen thus far. And, I find it very interesting that there isn’t this kind of blow back when Fire employees receive a THREE PERCENT INCREASE and “give it back” by paying 3% of their retirement. And, I’d like to see all of the complaining people take two weeks off without pay and then tell me how they paid their bills during that time frame. The unions that agreed to the 3.08% cut are the LOWEST paid workers in the city. I say look at the highest paid.. those that make more than the city manager.. those that have gotten increases every year (even though they “give it back”). Increases that speak to their highest years earnings, to their overtime rate, to the special pays they receive on top of their wage, etc etc.
    The “why aren’t you laying off someone living paycheck to paycheck” routine gets old, especially when followed by “why are our roads in bad shape, why are the parks trashy, why are our playgrounds not being maintained.”

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  21. Sunny says:

    When are the layoffs in Santa Rosa going to begin? The city has too many employees doing too little. Unpaid furlough days off and a wage freeze are only immediate stop gap measures, not a permananent fix to the budget fiscal crisis.

    The city is still hoping for better days, but the economy is still in the tank and will remain there until there is regime change in Washington and we get an administration that knows how to encourage economic development and cut federal spending.

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 17

  22. Dan Drummond says:

    I appreciate the spin, but let’s be clear, these are not pay cuts. Reductions in overall compensation brought about through the use of furloughs are simply unpaid days off. The employee continues to receive his or her regular hourly salary – there are just fewer hours available to work. Employees may not be happy with the arrangement, but they still receive their regular wages for the time they work while getting additional time off. Who really loses in these situations are the citizens of the city who receive less service for their money.

    If the city strategy is to save money by reducing service (i.e., furloughs), then all I ask is that they be honest with the citizens and say so. Spinning it as “pay cuts” just adds to the distrust citizens already feel for their government.

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  23. Jim says:

    Man I wish I had a say when my private sector employer laid me off along with 1/2 the group. I would have taken a 3% cut to keep my job, though the company would have gone bankrupt.

    This isn’t a news story, this is a joke. 3%, seriously?

    Executives paying a whopping 10% towards their pension! Whoo-hoo. You know what a private sector worker gets when they save 10% of their pay in a 401k? Nothing that resembles a guaranteed lifetime pension. Doesn’t matter, the taxpayer will cover the difference.

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  24. Reality Check says:

    This article raises more questions than it answers. First, additional days off around holidays hardly count as a pay cut. Presumably, working city employees do something of value. If they aren’t working, that value is lost.

    Second, is any of this, including the health benefit concession, permanent? Or are we talking about one more one-year extension of the existing contract with a few temporary givebacks?

    Folks, we need to get off the treadmill. A complete rewrite is overdue. It’s time for city expenses to be aligned with reality. And it’s time for city leaders to stop hyping an inch of progress as if it was a mile.

    Thumb up 23 Thumb down 15

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