First, we received the following tip from a source within the County itself.
On January 10, 2012, the Council passed, by Resolution 5-2012, staffing levels and pay and benefit schedules for 2012. This Resolution adopts the new salary schedules - without showing what it represents for individual positions. Therefore, I’d like to add some perspective prior to these adjustments taking affect with the August payroll.
The reclassification/salary study, required under the bargaining agreement, was completed under Pamela Morias’ leadership. The results provided raises ranging from over $10,000 to nearly $16,000 each for five unrepresented people – Ms. Morais, her significant other, two other department heads, and two managers – while over 40 other staff-members show reductions by as much as $8,655. This is public information, yet the public has not been made aware of it. It is also unclear whether the Council was ever aware of it, as this was never presented in open session. On September 20, 2011, there was a closed session held pursuant to RCW 42.30.140(4)(b) to discuss matters pertaining to collective bargaining. If this document was presented then, the information pertaining to unrepresented employees should have been presented in public. Staff was given an opportunity to appeal their reclassification by the end of November, after the proposed pay grade placement chart was distributed at an all staff meeting in October. The document distributed at the all-staff meeting revealed salary adjustments to individual positions. At the point the document was distributed staff-wide, it became a “public” document, yet was protected as a draft bargaining document by Ms. Morais, who withheld it from a media records request in January of 2012.
It was reported in the Journal that the County will be cutting 14 positions to close the shortfall of $800,000 for next year if the tax increase does not pass and by 7 positions and $400,000 if it does pass. This article also states that over the past 4 years, the County has gone through five rounds of budget cuts, 32 FTEs have been eliminated, and employees across the board have been required to take furloughs. By implementing the reclassification and its resulting salaries, this nets an overall increase in wages in the neighborhood of $400,000, with approximately $175,000 on the side of unrepresented staff (including the hefty raises mentioned earlier – for department heads already at the high end of the scale). The totals were arrived at by taking the positions listed on the proposed paygrade and placement chart, matching them as best as possible with employees, and using the median current wage against the median proposed wage. In full disclosure, the worksheet used is not complete, as there were more positions listed than could be matched with employees, and some may be placed incorrectly.
It is understood that the union employees are entitled to this schedule, but this is not the case for unrepresented staff. The study itself may be flawed in the comparator data or its interpretation, especially in light of the shrinking staffing levels, leaving managers with fewer employees and fewer projects to manage. Considering the economy, reduction in staff, and the out-migration this county is experiencing, the time is not right for such increases. Reconsidering the management salary increases and preserving at least one position prior to implementation and the election could prove to have a positive caste, demonstrating good will by San Juan County officials to its electorate.
Were either of them (or any of the others who received increases) underpaid?
Regarding the attached files, pay particular attention to the spreadsheet, which summarizes pay adjustments by person. The powerpoint presentation explains the purported justification for the adjustments.
(Click the folder below to open. Click the files to preview or download. If you cannot view Flash content, click on this link.)