Elk Grove: Slouching Towards Vallejo, Bell?

After he was denied an appointment to the United States Supreme Court, conservative legal scholar Robert Bork penned a book titled "Slo...

After he was denied an appointment to the United States Supreme Court, conservative legal scholar Robert Bork penned a book titled "Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline." This title, the Slouching part in particular, came to mind after reading a story in the Sacramento Bee on Elk Grove's dubious lead amongst local municipalities.

In a story posted yesterday, the Bee reported that among the 16 municipalities in the Sacramento area, Elk Grove paid the highest percentage of pension contributions on behalf of their employees during 2010. Citing new data from the state controller's office, Elk Grove paid $7.69  towards CALPERS pensions for every $100 of payroll.

Put another way, taxpayers made a contribution of over seven percent for the average city employee. Using this percent and given a labor budget of over $50 million for the current fiscal year, Elk Grove taxpayers will  pay over $15 million to CALPERS.

This is an outrageous sum to pay given the current economic state of many Elk Grove taxpayers.

First lets consider the fact according to the state controller, this is the most generous employer retirement match benefit being paid in the area. Invariably city council members and city staff will make the argument that we need to pay higher wages to attract labor.

To that we must answer - HOGWASH!

In case they haven't noticed, unemployment in California has been stuck in double digits since the onset of the Great Recession. Every Econ 101 student knows that taxpayers don't need to pay high labor rates in a market where employers hold sway.

And please don't tell us that the poor city employees took a few furlough days and had their wages frozen. So has just about everyone else, at least those of us still fortunate enough to be gainfully employed.

Second of all, has the city council and executive team not noticed the slew of foreclosures, unemployed constituents and the ever increasing demand for food and services at the Elk Grove Food Bank? Do we really need to further enrich well-paid city employees on the backs of struggling taxpayers?

Mind you, we are not opposed to public sector employees making a decent wage, reasonable retirement plan and having collective bargaining rights. The problem comes into focus when there are scores of city employees making six-figure incomes with several more with high five figure salaries that are receiving an additional seven percent retirement subsidy on the backs of constituents who make no where near the salary much less the lucrative retirement plan of those that are supposed to serve them.

They are supposed to serve us, not us serve them. Something is seriously afoul.

So the question is is this: Is Elk Grove slouching towards an eventual bankruptcy like nearby Vallejo who was unable to control wage and pension benefits? Or worse, or are we slouching toward a repeat of the City of Bell fiasco where city hall is packed with nothing but a bunch of self-serving "public servants" who could care less about their constituents and only looking to gorge like pigs at a trough?  

Post a Comment Default Comments


Anonymous said...

If you wanna cut costs, you'll need to cut cops. Then who are you gonna call when South Sac crime pushes further south?

Anonymous said...

This is rediculous and a double standard. You want top people, you have to pay. PERIOD.

Why don't you talk about closing the city for a day a month? Why don't you talk about the fact that employees took no pay raises and cuts (33%) to their pay for 3 years?

Where are your solutions to keeping things running? This cuts both ways don't forget... You enjoy a fantastic lifestyle with unbelievable respone time to any situation, yet you want that for little or no cost. Amazing

Anonymous said...

"They are supposed to serve us, not us serve them. Something is seriously afoul..."

Really, the author is "afoul". This does not speak to things the city is conducting the correct way. This is mearly someone who jumps on a 'bandwagon' because it is popular.

I say you take a position as a volunteer at the city and help implement changes. No cost to you or the city. No retirement. No benefits. Just as you state in your article.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous must be a city employee. Why does a city of 150,000 people have to pay more than a city of 500,000 people into a retirement system? The issues facing a large city are often far more complex than those of a city of Elk Grove's size. As such the skills needed to solve issues require deeper level of quality experience.

Anonymous said...

LOL....I knew city employees would jump on this little article of TRUTH. That being said, if I'm a city employee, I most likely will take the big paycheck with all the fringe benefits and smile all the way to the bank. But on the other hand, if that means somewhere down the road I lose that job because of poor management by the city...maybe I'll just keep my thoughts to myself. IMO, the city spends money like there's no tomorrow...incentives, Rain Gardens, $100,000. to "design" a fence, Welcome to EG sign that no one can even see and now, Wayfinding Signage and much more. All while another business is closing - Bel Air, where many will lose their jobs. I don't pretend to know the answer, but it does seem we need to tighten our belts. All I hear at city council meetings is "spend, spend, spend." I know, very few in our community even know or care that there are planning & council meetings. It's not until it hits their neighborhoods or wallets that it gets their attention.

Anonymous said...

The poignant irony here, lead by Mr. Small Government, Councilman Patrick Hume, is giving away the farm as if the city's bank account is his own. Hume's most recent blunder: He just got the city into another lawsuit by his incessant grandstanding. Hume, along with his mentor Sophia Scherman, need to go!!

Can the voters of Elk Grove impeach a council member citing malfeasance and/or pure stupidity???

Anonymous said...

The city of Elk Grove will never be another Bell, CA. However, the potential was there. Though we have had our share of problems for a city 12 years old with our initial city government, and with a city manager in John Danielson who put a moat around city hall and received the highest salary in the region -- even more than the city manager of the city of Sacramento.

Citizens refused to be locked out, refused to give up, demanded accountability and forced change. In looking back, we can be proud we held our ground.

Of the two original council members remaining, only one paved the way for the largest salaries in the region for a very young city, Sophia Scherman rubberstamped every single one. Only current Mayor Jim Cooper stood up and said, “NO NO NO!”

However, is Laura Gill another John Danielson? By all appearances, she may be, and like Susan Cochran, a change is needed.

Anonymous said...

To the editor:

A title change is in order here. EG is not "slouching," but rather is racing at the speed of a bullet train toward Bell/Vallejo!

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to re-do their math on how much the City is paying to CALPERS. If the original numbers are correct ($50M and 7.69%), $15 million is completely wrong. That would me an the City paying an additional 30% of their payroll to retirement. The true number is about $3.845 M.

Follow Us



Elk Grove News Minute

All previous Elk Grove News Minutes, interviews, and Dan Schmitt's Ya' Gotta be Schmittin' Me podcasts are now available on iTunes

Elk Grove News Podcast