What a Five Percent Pay Hike Will Cost Elk Grove Taxpayers

Are Top Officials in Self-Serve Buffet Line? 

Are Top Officials in Self-Serve Buffet Line? 

Years ago a graybeard noted that he had never seen a career politician retire poor. The same can now be said of top officials running municipalities.

When the 2012 fiscal year budget was approved Wednesday night, the Elk Grove City Council offered little discussion of next year’s financial plan, much less a proposal that will make employees eligible for a five percent merit pay increase. 

The only council member questioning the raise was Pat Hume, but even his questioning of the wisdom of increasing taxpayers labor cost given an uncertain economic future for Elk Grove was tepid. The spin being offered up by City Manager Laura Gill was that city employees have made great sacrifices over the last three years and the raise was needed for morale.

The city council bought it.

While we don’t object to lower paid non-executive staff being offered an opportunity to get a merit-based raise, if Gill and her posse were really sincere about improving morale for employee, the top executives would have exempted themselves from eligibility and deferred any pay increase eligibility to the sole discretion of the council.

If the top five paid city employees earn a five percent merit raise it will cost taxpayers an additional $46,640.

Current income and a five percent increase for the city's top five paid employees:

Laura Gill, City Manager, $218,185 - $10,909
Susan Cochran, City Attorney, $195,359 - $9,767
Robert Lehner, Chief of Police, $179,894 - $8,994
Rebecca Craig, Assistant City Manager, $171,846 - $8,593
Richard Shepard, Public Works Director, $167,554 - $8,377

So obviously the people advocating this increase stand to gain the most in real terms. If this is anything but a self serving attempt to get themselves raises, we would gladly like to hear a counter-argument. 

It would be very surprising to find out if any of these top five officials earn anything less than a five percent merit increase.

It should also be noted that while Gill sold and the council bought the scheme, wages of the council’s constituents in the private sector have seen their wages stagnate. According to US Department of Commerce statistics, 10-year wage gains are worse than in any ten-year period including the Great Depression.

As of April, 2011 private sector wage growth over a 10 year period are 4.1 percent. Please note this is over a 10 year period, not an annual rate. Put another way, a worker earning $30,000 in April of 2001 is now making only $31,200.

Talk about someone having low morale!

Undoubtedly it will be argued that $47K in the scheme of a $148 million budget is chump change. But as the old political adage goes a $100,000 here and $100,00 there and pretty soon you are talking real money.

So before Elk Grove taxpayers wallets get pickpocketed again by marauding officials ala John Danielson, we hope the council takes into consideration the scope of any merit raises for the taxpayers top executives given the wage plight facing the very same constituents they have sworn to serve. 

Then the council can truly say they are being "lean and mean."

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Gary Sack said...

I thought that I read in the Sacarmento Bee today, that it is a balanced budget, but later in the same story it stated that the City would dip into reserves. I may have misread the story, but the use of reserves,would not be a balanced budget, would it?

I thought that to be balanced it had you had to have expeditures equal revenues.

Rex said...

If morale is so bad for those who are working for the City of Elk Grove, then why haven't they gone out and found jobs in the private sector? They are no different than our federal and state employees, who clutch on to their precious government jobs in spite of any reductions or cuts they have had to endure. Many of us who work in private sector find ourselves with reductions in pay, hours and/or benefits, and in some cases the loss of our jobs. They should be happy to have jobs and that includes those 5 top salary earners on the city payroll.

Count me as one vote against any increases in the current salaries of the employees of the city of Elk Grove.

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