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City of Lodi workers give up $2.6 million in salary, benefits

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Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 12:00 pm, Thu Jun 2, 2011.

The Lodi City Council approved a budget Wednesday night that includes employees giving up at least $2.6 million in salary and benefits.

The council has approved deals with 11 of the city’s 13 bargaining groups to deal with stagnating revenues and rising medical, pension and workers’ compensation costs.

City negotiators also have a deal with the police dispatchers and are planning to reach an agreement with the Lodi Police Officers Association officers by the end of the week. Both of those agreements will be approved at the June 15 meeting.

“This process would not be possible without the tremendous help of our city employees,” Deputy City Manager Jordan Ayers said.

The council unanimously approved the budget for fiscal year 2011-12, which starts July 1.

City staff told employees they needed to approve concessions to close a large gap created from rising costs. The deficit consists of the following increases: $1.2 million for pensions, $900,000 for medical insurance and $2.2 million for workers’ compensation.

For most groups, the concessions resulted in about a 10-percent reduction in salary, city staff said. Each bargaining group agreed to a different set of concessions to close the gap.

“I just think it’s commendable that everyone stepped up to the plate, especially when it meant that some people needed to look into their refrigerators and make some major changes, which is never easy,” Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce said.

Furlough Fridays will continue throughout the city. Some groups, like mid-management, general services and maintenance and operators, have decided to also take floating furlough holidays that can be used at any time.

One group, fire mid-management, approved 207 floating furlough hours because fixed furlough days are not conducive to that department.

For the first time in the city’s history, 10 unions will be paying at least 1 percent of their pension costs. Some agreed to pay more, including fire mid-management at 3.3 percent and the Lodi Firefighters Association at 5.3 percent.

The executive managers and employees appointed by the council — including the city manager, city attorney and city clerk — agreed to pay 7 percent of their pension costs with the hope it would set the tone for future negotiations.

Another big change is in health care. Employees in eight groups agreed to either take the lowest-cost HMO or make up the difference out of their own pocket if they choose a more expensive plan.

The city is also continuing to reduce its workforce by offering employees a two-year service retirement credit to encourage workers to retire early. By June 30, 15 more employees will retire early, Ayers said.

Since the 2009 to 2010 budget, the city has decreased its number of employees by 33, to a total of 388.

“Our payback on those are within months. It’s a good business deal, and a good way to reduce the work force and manage department staffing changes,” City Manager Rad Bartlam said.

To see a graph listing all of the employee concessions by union, go to www.lodinews. com/blogs/city_buzz.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com. Read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/citybuzz.

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11 comments:

  • Josh Morgan posted at 10:29 pm on Fri, Jun 3, 2011.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 529

    Doug, when you've reported these crimes to the Grand Jury what kind of response have you been given?

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 9:49 pm on Fri, Jun 3, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Mr. Jackson, that was a lowball figure, and according to cutback in upper echelon wages should be more like 15%. The vehicle stipend should be cut at least to the miles driven for work related issues or use one of Lodi's 1999 special vehicles that I see quite a few of still being driven by some of the departments. And the $13K, and some even higher insurance plans should be trimmed to the basics, ending the eyecare and dental coverage. That should be self paid. I'm not suggesting the electric utility fund transfers should stop, but all of those funds need to be scrutinized by each and every transaction and a public record kept in the town databank for all public to examine as an open public databank record. Lodi has all the resources to create these databanks and good old boy, Mr. Mann, who's the administrator of the computer resources department , is capable of accessing these documents, I believe. This is another good old boy appointment to a gravy position that many older, established and informed residents of Lodi were up in arms about. The city doesn't release any expenditure under $5000 to the public unless specifically requested. These are the invoices and credit card transactions of all Lodi public employees that either have a city credit card, expense account, or permission tgo purchase and turn in the receipts for cash reimbursement. This is the data that should be included in every bi-monthly financial report at the council meetings. If those were made to be bi-weekly, or even weekly public records, there would be explaining to do for those who abuse the system of freewheeling and out of control spending by those who enact the ordinances that preclude these "slush fund expenses" from being released to the public unless specifically asked for. Revealing who and where EVERY penny that is spent from Lodi's budget money is critical to determine where the cuts, or if need be, firings or criminal prosecution, should be administered. There should be no silly under $5000 invoice or purchase ordinance on any towns' books. Some of the past council were rumored to have spent that much on a long weekend in Lodi at the fancy bed and breakfast and spa and even bragged about it. It's time for pay cuts and each and every credit card, invoice and cash purchase for reimbursement to be evaluated and any unjustifiable expense should be denied and paid back, or deducted from the paycheck of the cheater, and a second flagrant violation should be dealt with by immediate dismissal and forfeiture of any special perks or compensation.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 1:20 pm on Fri, Jun 3, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    I'm pretty happy with the services I receive...followed with... Let's go out of our way to see how much we can screw em!

    John Ring clearly outlines why decreasing salary and benefits is not involved with or a consequence of job performance.

     
  • Jackson Scott posted at 10:25 am on Fri, Jun 3, 2011.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 382

    Doug, why should the City Management & their staff ONLY take a 5% cut when their salaries are the biggest, and while some bargaining groups are giving up 10% in wages for the good of keeping their coworkers employed? Bigger cuts at the top make more sense to me.

    Also Doug, please recall long before you moved to Liveable, Loveable Lodi and became the Taxpayer & Citizen Watchdog, the City has always been dependent on the Electric Dept for massive cash transfers. Just imagine what the General Fund would look like if those LEUD transfers stopped and rates were lowered: the city would have to make HUGE cuts across the board in Police, Fire, and every single department. City services would be cut & cut to the bone. If the cash transfers from LEUD were to stop some sort of other "Revenue Stream" would need to be created: Read As: TAXES.

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 9:33 am on Fri, Jun 3, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Those continuing millions of dollars poured into the city by LEUD on a bi-weekly (fund transfers) basis have not only been paying the bills and increasing the surplus for the city to keep their credit rating mediocre, but are also used to fund non- essential perks provided by the city to not only themselves, but the good old boys network at city hall and their chosen few. My assumption was that an honest city council was to assure that those excess funds from LEUD were meant to keep the utility rates for the ratepayers of Lodi at a reasonable cost, not escalate them to one of the highest electric rates in the country and constantly feeding the cash cow of the dysfunctional NCPA. With all of these so-called brainerds and intelligencia in city government and management and the steady flow of high paid consultants, you'd think that maybe at least one of them could study the financial status of the state of CA and realize that we are realistically looking at possibly another 4 years of economic floundering and budget cutbacks. I suggest that the council and management teams, along with their seemingly overabundant staff and assistant directors should be the first to volunteer 5% pay cuts to their complete package to set an example. Manager Blair King makes this circus of fools downtown look like no more than scheming wall street brokers.

     
  • John Ring posted at 6:35 pm on Thu, Jun 2, 2011.

    John Ring Posts: 34

    Bob- thanks for the website link. I agree with your points concerning the services we recieve here in Lodi, above average for sure. I'm not sure what you mean by your comment, "Lets go out of our way to see how much we can screw them". There are only a couple of options that are posible given the current financial scenario we are in. We can either generate more revenue or reduce expenses. Generating more revenue involves increasing tax revenue, increasing fees or utility rates etc.Cutting expenses generally involves being more efficient or cutting employee costs which makes up a vast majority of the city, any city budget. We can continue to pay our city workforce at the current level if we are ok with increasing the local sales tax, electric rates, water rates, increased fees for parks, higher traffic fines etc. The bottom line is the current employee compensation package cannot be maintained without a large revenue increase. Unfortunately the voting public isn't going to support it. Lodi already has one of the highest electric rates in the state. The utility generates a ton of money that goes into the city's general fund. So, we are left with reducing the largest expense item on the budget, employee costs.

     
  • Bob Bechill posted at 3:21 pm on Thu, Jun 2, 2011.

    Bob Bechill Posts: 41

    John et al. This web site:

    http://www.lodi.gov/city_manager/Budgetgroup.html

    has some pretty good info on what makes up the budget. It's kind of like having 171 different checking accounts. For many accounts, the city is prohibited by law from taking money from one pot and applying it to another. I'm sure that Mr. Bartlam or someone with his staff could elaborate on the Worker's Comp question.

    Just so you know, I don't work for the city. However, that being said, I'm pretty happy with the services I receive. Police and Fire show within minutes (unlike Stockton), the roads and sidewalks are in fairly decent shape, my water's clean, the sewer doesn't back up, I think we may have had one power outage in the last ten years, the trash is picked up every Friday, it doesn't flood when it rains, the parks are ample and well-maintained, and I even like the events at Hutchins Street Square. Gee, city workers provide all those services....Let's go out of our way to see how much we can screw em!

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 12:08 pm on Thu, Jun 2, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Why does the city of Lodi, in these lean economic times with at least 4 more years predicted by economists, need an asst. city manageror a "communication" expert when computer programming and data base resources could easily elimate both of these positions, eliminating $250,000 or more? Why isn't city council considering cuts to these positions? Are they exempt from being held responsible themselves, since it only takes the votes of the 3 amigos on counccil to pass any amendment, law, ordinance, etc. their suspected little hearts desire? I thought the citizens of Lodi were at the top of the power pecking order according to the general power chart I have from the city of Lodi?

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 9:57 am on Thu, Jun 2, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    For the first time in the city’s history, 10 unions will be paying at least 1 percent of their pension costs...
    Another big change is in health care. Employees in eight groups agreed to either take the lowest-cost HMO...
    I see... this is what is called " concession" Instead of driving a 1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe , tough negotiations and strong-arming techniques were utilized, and a Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren Roadster was the settlement... we all must sacrifice after all...

    I do appreciate the direction it is going in... and I agree with Josh Morgan ... Good job City management, City employees, City Council... however, there should be no illusion that what was agreed to was a very extravagant offer (compared to private sector) that should be appreciated and valued by all that benefit from such a grandiose benefit structure. Unfortunately, there will be some people who see this as concession and getting less than they deserve. I hope the grumbling sounds are not over bearing.

     
  • John Ring posted at 7:09 am on Thu, Jun 2, 2011.

    John Ring Posts: 34

    The largest item mentioned in the article is 2.2mil for Workers Compensation. This is a completely controlable expense item. I wonder what the city is doing to reduce workers compensation costs. Interesting that no mention was made of it in the article, other than the amount. Carving a million out of that number would be big. Perhaps it was discussed and just wasn't mentioned in the article. There tends to be a fair amount of abuse in the workers compensation system, especially with public entities. With good oversight and focus you can minimize this and keep costs down.

     
  • Josh Morgan posted at 7:05 am on Thu, Jun 2, 2011.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 529

    Good job City management, City employees, City Council.

     

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